A radar reflectivity operator with ice-phase hydrometeors for variational data assimilation (version 1.0) and its evaluation with real radar data
A reflectivity forward operator and its associated tangent linear and adjoint operators (together named RadarVar) were developed for variational data assimilation (DA). RadarVar can analyze both rainwater and ice-phase species (snow and graupel) by directly assimilating radar reflectivity observations. The results of three-dimensional variational (3D-Var) DA experiments with a 3 km grid mesh setting of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model showed that RadarVar was effective at producing an analysis of reflectivity pattern and intensity similar to the observed data. Two to three outer loops with 50–100 iterations in each loop were needed to obtain a converged 3-D analysis of reflectivity, rainwater, snow, and graupel, including the melting layers with mixed-phase hydrometeors. It is shown that the deficiencies in the analysis using this operator, caused by the poor quality of the background fields and the use of the static background error covariance, can be partially resolved by using radar-retrieved hydrometeors in a preprocessing step and tuning the spatial correlation length scales of the background errors. The direct radar reflectivity assimilation using RadarVar also improved the short-term (2–5 h) precipitation forecasts compared to those of the experiment without DA.