Articles | Volume 27, issue 8
26 Aug 2009
 | 26 Aug 2009

Effects of assimilating precipitation zones derived from satellite and lightning data on numerical simulations of tropical-like Mediterranean storms

L. Fita, R. Romero, A. Luque, and C. Ramis

Abstract. The scarcity of meteorological observations in maritime areas is a well-known problem that can be an important limitation in the study of different phenomena. Tropical-like storms or medicanes developed over the Mediterranean sea are intense storms with some similarities to the tropical ones. Although they do not reach the hurricane intensity, their potential for damage is very high, due to the densely populated Mediterranean coastal regions. In this study, the two notable cases of medicane development which occurred in the western Mediterranean basin in September 1996 and October 2003, are considered. The capability of mesoscale numerical models to simulate general aspects of such a phenomena has been previously shown. With the aim of improving the numerical results, an adjustment of the humidity vertical profiles in MM5 simulations is performed by means of satellite derived precipitation. Convective and stratiform precipitation types obtained from satellite images are used to individually adjust the profiles. Lightning hits are employed to identify convective grid points. The adjustment of the vertical humidity profiles is carried out in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) analyses used as initial conditions for the simulations. Analyses nudging to ECMWF analyses and to the satellite-based humidity-corrected version of these analyses has also been applied using Four Dimensional Data Assimilation (FDDA). An additional adjustment is applied as observation nudging of satellite/lightning information at different time and spatial resolutions. Statistical parameters are proposed and tested as an objective way to intercompare satellite-derived and simulated trajectories. Simulations of medicanes exhibit a strong sensitivity to vertical humidity profiles. Trajectories of the storms are improved or worsened by using FDDA. A case dependence is obtained on the characteristics of the humidity-corrected medicanes. FDDA sensitivity on temporal and spatial resolution of the assimilated data also presents a case dependence. It also shows a significant sensitivity of the results of the observation nudging to the specific choice of the values of coefficient weight and vertical ratio of the ingested observations.