Direct 4D-Var assimilation of NCEP Stage IV radar and gauge precipitation data at ECMWF

TitleDirect 4D-Var assimilation of NCEP Stage IV radar and gauge precipitation data at ECMWF
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2010
AuthorLopez, P
Secondary TitleTechnical Memorandum

Direct four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) data assimilation of NCEP Stage IV radar and gauge precipitation observations over the Eastern USA have been developed and tested in ECMWF's Integrated Forecasting System. This is the natural extension of earlier work using a two-step 1D+4D-Var approach. Major aspects of the implementation are described and discussed in this paper. In particular, it is found that assimilating 6-hour precipitation accumulations instead of the original hourly data substantially improves the behaviour of 4D-Var, especially as regards the validity of the tangent-linear assumption. The comparison of background and analysis precipitation departures demonstrate that most of the information contained in the new precipitation observations is properly assimilated. Experiments run over the periods April-May and September-October 2009 also show that local precipitation forecasts become significantly better for ranges up to 12 hours, which indicates that a genuine precipitation analysis can now be obtained over the Eastern USA. Geopotential, temperature, moisture and wind forecast scores are generally neutral or slightly positive for all regions of the globe and at all ranges, which is consistent with previous 1D+4D-Var results. The most crucial issue that remains unsolved is the treatment of non-precipitating model background occurrences because of the corresponding absence of sensitivity in the linearized moist physics. For the moment, only points where both model background and observations are rainy are assimilated. Operational implementation using American data is planned in 2011 and one can hope that new networks of radars (and maybe rain-gauges) can be added in the 4D-Var assimilation process in the future.