Assimilation of DAWN Doppler wind lidar data during the 2017 Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX): impact on precipitation and flow structure

Hristova-Veleva, Svetla; Zhang, Sara Q.; Turk, F. Joseph; Haddad, Ziad S.; Sawaya, Randy C.

An improved representation of 3-D air motion and precipitation structure through forecast models and assimilation of observations is vital for improvements in weather forecasting capabilities. However, there are few independent data to properly validate a model forecast of precipitation structure when the underlying dynamics are evolving on short convective timescales. Using data from the JPL Ku/Ka-band Airborne Precipitation Radar (APR-2) and the 2 inline-formulaµm Doppler Aerosol Wind (DAWN) lidar collected during the 2017 Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX), the NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Ensemble Data Assimilation System (EDAS) modeling system was used to quantify the impact of high-resolution sparsely sampled DAWN measurements on the analyzed variables and on the forecast when the DAWN winds were assimilated. Overall, the assimilation of the DAWN wind profiles had a discernible impact on the wind field as well as the evolution and timing of the 3-D precipitation structure. Analysis of individual variables revealed that the assimilation of the DAWN winds resulted in important and coherent modifications of the environment. It led to an increase in the near-surface convergence, temperature, and water vapor, creating more favorable conditions for the development of convection exactly where it was observed (but not present in the control run). Comparison to APR-2 and observations by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite shows a much-improved forecast after the assimilation of the DAWN winds – development of precipitation where there was none, more organized precipitation where there was some, and a much more intense and organized cold pool, similar to the analysis of the dropsonde data. The onset of the vertical evolution of the precipitation showed similar radar-derived cloud-top heights, but delayed in time. While this investigation was limited to a single CPEX flight date, the investigation design is appropriate for further investigation of the impact of airborne Doppler wind lidar observations upon short-term convective precipitation forecasts.

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Hristova-Veleva, Svetla / Zhang, Sara Q. / Turk, F. Joseph / et al: Assimilation of DAWN Doppler wind lidar data during the 2017 Convective Processes Experiment (CPEX): impact on precipitation and flow structure. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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