Can 4D-Var use dynamical information from targeted observations of a baroclinic structure?
Irvine, E. A., Gray, S. L. and Methven, J. (2010) Can 4D-Var use dynamical information from targeted observations of a baroclinic structure? Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 136 (651). pp. 1396-1407. ISSN 1477-870X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/qj.673
Targeted observations are generally taken in regions of high baroclinicity, but often show little impact. One plausible explanation is that important dynamical information, such as upshear tilt, is not extracted from the targeted observations by the data assimilation scheme and used to correct initial condition error. This is investigated by generating pseudo targeted observations which contain a singular vector (SV) structure that is not present in the background field or routine observations, i.e. assuming that the background has an initial condition error with tilted growing structure. Experiments were performed for a single case-study with varying numbers of pseudo targeted observations. These were assimilated by the Met Office four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) data assimilation scheme, which uses a 6 h window for observations and background-error covariances calculated using the National Meteorological Centre (NMC) method. The forecasts were run using the operational Met Office Unified Model on a 24 km grid. The results presented clearly demonstrate that a 6 h window 4D-Var system is capable of extracting baroclinic information from a limited set of observations and using it to correct initial condition error. To capture the SV structure well (projection of 0.72 in total energy), 50 sondes over an area of 1×106 km2 were required. When the SV was represented by only eight sondes along an example targeting flight track covering a smaller area, the projection onto the SV structure was lower; the resulting forecast perturbations showed an SV structure with increased tilt and reduced initial energy. The total energy contained in the perturbations decreased as the SV structure was less well described by the set of observations (i.e. as fewer pseudo observations were assimilated). The assimilated perturbation had lower energy than the SV unless the pseudo observations were assimilated with the dropsonde observation errors halved from operational values. Copyright © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society