Assimilation of AMSU-A in All-sky Conditions

Assimilation of AMSU-A in All-sky Conditions
Date Published
EUMETSAT/ECMWF Fellowship Programme Research Report

Radiances from microwave temperature sounders have been assimilated operationally at ECMWF for two decades, but observations significantly affected by clouds and precipitation have been screened out. Extending successful assimilation beyond clear-sky scenes is a challenge that has taken several years of development to achieve. In this paper we describe the all-sky treatment of AMSU-A, which enables greater numbers of temperature sounding radiances to be used in meteorologically active parts of the troposphere. Successful all-sky assimilation required combining lessons learnt from the clear-sky assimilation of AMSU-A with the approach initially developed for humidity-sensitive microwave radiances. This concerned particularly observation thinning, error modelling, and variational quality control.

As a result of the move to all-sky assimilation, the forecast impact of AMSU-A now replicates and exceeds that of the previous clear-sky usage. This is shown via trials in comparison to the current ECMWF assimilation system, judged with respect to forecast scores and background fits to independent observations. Persistently cloudy regions and phenomena such as tropical cyclones are better sampled when assimilating AMSU-A in all-sky conditions, causing an increase of about 13% in used channel 5 radiances globally. These impacts are explored, with an emphasis on tropical cyclones in the 2019 season. Independent observations provide consistent evidence that representation of humidity is improved, for example, while extratropical Z500 forecasts are improved by about 0.5% out to at least day 2. On the strength of these results, assimilation of AMSU-A moves to all-sky conditions with the upgrade to IFS cycle 47R3 in October 2021.


DOI 10.21957/b3qsdrf2l