Using precipitation observations in a mesoscale short-range ensemble analysis and forecasting system

Tadashi Fujita, David J. Stensrud, David C. Dowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A simple method to assimilate precipitation data from a synthesis of radar and gauge data is developed to operate alongside an ensemble Kalman filter that assimilates hourly surface observations. The mesoscale ensemble forecast system consists of 25 members with 30-km grid spacing and incorporates variability in both initial and boundary conditions and model physical process schemes. The precipitation assimilation method only incorporates information on when and where rainfall is observed. Model temperature and water vapor mixing ratio profiles at each grid point are modified if rainfall is observed but not predicted, or if rainfall is predicted but not observed. These modifications act to either increase or decrease, respectively, the likelihood that precipitation develops at that grid point. Two cases are examined in which this technique is applied to assimilate precipitation data every 15 min from 1200 to 1800 UTC, while hourly surface observations are also assimilated at the same time using the more sophisticated ensemble Kalman filter approach. Results show that the simple method for assimilating precipitation data helps the model develop precipitation where it is observed, resulting in the precipitation area being reproduced more accurately than in the run without precipitation-data assimilation, while not negatively influencing the positive results from the surface data assimilation. Improvement is also seen in the reliability of precipitation probabilities for a 1 mm h-1 threshold after the assimilation period, indicating that assimilating precipitation data may provide improved forecasts of the mesoscale environment for a few hours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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