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Assessment of Radio Occultation observations from the COSMIC-2 mission with a simplified Observing System Simulation Experiment configuration

Abstract

The mainstay of the global Radio Occultation (RO) system, the COSMIC constellation of six satellites launched in April 2006, is already past the end of its nominal lifetime and the number of soundings are rapidly declining because the constellation is degrading. For about the last decade, COSMIC profiles have been collected and their retrievals assimilated in numerical weather prediction systems to improve operational weather forecasts. The success of RO in increasing forecast skill and COSMIC’s aging constellation have motivated planning for the COSMIC-2 mission, a 12-satellite constellation to be deployed in two launches. The first six satellites (COSMIC-2A) are expected to be deployed in December 2017 in a low-inclination orbit for dense equatorial coverage, while the second six (COSMIC-2B) are expected to be launched later in a high inclination orbit for global coverage.

In order to evaluate the potential benefits from COSMIC-2, we have used an earlier version of the NCEP’s operational forecast model and data assimilation system to conduct a series of Observing System Simulation Experiments with simulated soundings from the COSMIC-2 mission. In agreement with earlier studies using real RO observations, the benefits from assimilating COSMIC-2 observations are found to be most significant in the Southern Hemisphere. No or very little gain in forecast skill is found by adding COSMIC-2A to COSMIC- 2B, making the launch of COSMIC-2B more important for terrestrial global weather forecasting than that of COSMIC-2A. Furthermore, results suggest that further improvement in forecast skill might better be obtained with the addition of more RO observations with global coverage and other types of observations.

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