Assimilation of GNSS tomography products into the Weather Research and Forecasting model using radio occultation data assimilation operator
From Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals, accurate and high-frequency atmospheric parameters can be determined in all-weather conditions. GNSS tomography is a technique that takes advantage of these parameters, especially of slant troposphere observations between GNSS receivers and satellites, traces these signals through a 3-D grid of voxels, and estimates by an inversion process the refractivity of the water vapour content within each voxel. In the last years, the GNSS tomography development focused on numerical methods to stabilize the solution, which has been achieved to a great extent. Currently, we are facing new challenges and possibilities in the application of GNSS tomography in numerical weather forecasting, the main research objective of this paper. In the first instance, refractivity fields were estimated using two different GNSS tomography models (TUW, WUELS), which cover the area of central Europe during the period of 29 May–14 June 2013, when heavy-precipitation events were observed. For both models, slant wet delays (SWDs) were calculated based on estimates of zenith total delay (ZTD) and horizontal gradients, provided for 88 GNSS sites by Geodetic Observatory Pecny (GOP). In total, three sets of SWD observations were tested (set0 without compensation for hydrostatic anisotropic effects, set1 with compensation of this effect, set2 cleaned by wet delays outside the inner voxel model), in order to assess the impact of different factors on the tomographic solution. The GNSS tomography outputs have been assimilated into the nested (12 and 36 km horizontal resolution) Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, using its three-dimensional variational data assimilation (WRFDA 3D-Var) system, in particular, its radio occultation observation operator (GPSREF). As only total refractivity is assimilated in GPSREF, it was calculated as the sum of the hydrostatic part derived from the ALADIN-CZ model and the wet part from the GNSS tomography. We compared the results of the GNSS tomography data assimilation to the radiosonde (RS) observations. The validation shows the improvement in the weather forecasting of relative humidity (bias, standard deviation) and temperature (standard deviation) during heavy-precipitation events. Future improvements to the assimilation method are also discussed.