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Impacts of Targeted AERI and Doppler Lidar Wind Retrievals on Short-Term Forecasts of the Initiation and Early Evolution of Thunderstorms

Abstract

The ability of atmospheric emitted radiance interferometer (AERI) and Doppler lidar (DL) wind profile observations to impact short-term forecasts of convection is explored by assimilating retrievals into a partially-cycled convection-allowing ensemble analysis and forecast system. AERI and DL retrievals were obtained over 12 days using a mobile platform that was deployed in the pre-convective and near-storm environments of thunderstorms during the afternoon in the United States Great Plains. The observation locations were guided by real-time ensemble sensitivity analysis (ESA) fields. AERI retrievals of temperature and dewpoint and DL retrievals of the horizontal wind components were assimilated into a control experiment that only assimilated conventional observations. Using the fractions skill score within 25 km neighborhoods, it is found that the assimilation of the AERI and DL retrievals results in far more times when the forecasts are improved than degraded in the 6-h forecast period. However, statistical confidence in the improvements often is not high and little to no relationships between the ESA fields and the actual changes in spread and skill is found. But, the focus on convective initiation and early convective evolution —a challenging forecast problem —and the fact that frequent improvements were seen despite observations from only one system over a limited period, provides encouragement to continue exploring the benefits of ground-based profilers to supplement the current upper-air observing system for severe weather forecasting applications.

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