Articles | Volume 33, issue 7
Regular paper
03 Jul 2015
Regular paper |  | 03 Jul 2015

Impact of local data assimilation on tropical cyclone predictions over the Bay of Bengal using the ARW model

M. M. Greeshma, C. V. Srinivas, V. Yesubabu, C. V. Naidu, R. Baskaran, and B. Venkatraman

Abstract. The tropical cyclone (TC) track and intensity predictions over Bay of Bengal (BOB) using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (ARW) model are evaluated for a number of data assimilation experiments using various types of data. Eight cyclones that made landfall along the east coast of India during 2008–2013 were simulated. Numerical experiments included a control run (CTL) using the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) 3-hourly 0.5 × 0.5° resolution Global Forecasting System (GFS) analysis as the initial condition, and a series of cycling mode variational assimilation experiments with Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) data assimilation (WRFDA) system using NCEP global PrepBUFR observations (VARPREP), Atmospheric Motion Vectors (VARAMV), Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) A and B radiances (VARRAD) and a combination of PrepBUFR and RAD (VARPREP+RAD). The impact of different observations is investigated in detail in a case of the strongest TC, Phailin, for intensity, track and structure parameters, and finally also on a larger set of cyclones. The results show that the assimilation of AMSU radiances and Atmospheric Motion Vectors (AMV) improved the intensity and track predictions to a certain extent and the use of operationally available NCEP PrepBUFR data which contains both conventional and satellite observations produced larger impacts leading to improvements in track and intensity forecasts. The forecast improvements are found to be associated with changes in pressure, wind, temperature and humidity distributions in the initial conditions after data assimilation. The assimilation of mass (radiance) and wind (AMV) data showed different impacts. While the motion vectors mainly influenced the track predictions, the radiance data merely influenced forecast intensity. Of various experiments, the VARPREP produced the largest impact with mean errors (India Meteorological Department (IMD) observations less the model values) of 78, 129, 166, 210 km in the vector track position, 10.3, 5.8, 4.8, 9.0 hPa deeper than IMD data in central sea level pressure (CSLP) and 10.8, 3.9, −0.2, 2.3 m s−1 stronger than IMD data in maximum surface winds (MSW) for 24, 48, 72, 96 h forecasts respectively. An improvement of about 3–36 % in track, 6–63 % in CSLP, 26–103 % in MSW and 11–223 % in the radius of maximum winds in 24–96 h lead time forecasts are found with VARPREP over CTL, suggesting the advantages of assimilation of operationally available PrepBUFR data for cyclone predictions. The better predictions with PrepBUFR could be due to quality-controlled observations in addition to containing different types of data (conventional, satellite) covering an effectively larger area. The performance degradation of VARPREP+RAD with the assimilation of all available observations over the domain after 72 h could be due to poor area coverage and bias in the radiance data.