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The Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX)


The Mesoscale Predictability Experiment (MPEX) was conducted from 15 May to 15 June 2013 in the central United States. MPEX was motivated by the basic question of whether experimental, subsynoptic observations can extend convective-scale predictability and otherwise enhance skill in short-term regional numerical weather prediction.

Observational tools for MPEX included the National Science Foundation (NSF)–National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Gulfstream V aircraft (GV), which featured the Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System mini-dropsonde system and a microwave temperature-profiling (MTP) system as well as several ground-based mobile upsonde systems. Basic operations involved two missions per day: an early morning mission with the GV, well upstream of anticipated convective storms, and an afternoon and early evening mission with the mobile sounding units to sample the initiation and upscale feedbacks of the convection.

A total of 18 intensive observing periods (IOPs) were completed during the field phase, representing a wide spectrum of synoptic regimes and convective events, including several major severe weather and/or tornado outbreak days. The novel observational strategy employed during MPEX is documented herein, as is the unique role of the ensemble modeling efforts—which included an ensemble sensitivity analysis—to both guide the observational strategies and help address the potential impacts of such enhanced observations on short-term convective forecasting. Preliminary results of retrospective data assimilation experiments are discussed, as are data analyses showing upscale convective feedbacks.

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