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Radiance Preprocessing for Assimilation in the Hourly Updating Rapid Refresh Mesoscale Model: A Study Using AIRS Data


This study describes the initial application of radiance bias correction and channel selection in the hourly updated Rapid Refresh model. For this initial application, data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) are used; this dataset gives atmospheric temperature and water vapor information at higher vertical resolution and accuracy than previously launched low-spectral resolution satellite systems. In this preliminary study, data from AIRS are shown to add skill to short-range weather forecasts over a relatively data-rich area. Two 1-month retrospective runs were conducted to evaluate the impact of assimilating clear-sky AIRS radiance data on 1–12-h forecasts using a research version of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Rapid Refresh (RAP) regional mesoscale model already assimilating conventional and other radiance [AMSU-A, Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS), HIRS-4] data. Prior to performing the assimilation, a channel selection and bias-correction spinup procedure was conducted that was appropriate for the RAP configuration. RAP forecasts initialized from analyses with and without AIRS data were verified against radiosonde, surface atmosphere, precipitation, and satellite radiance observations. Results show that the impact from AIRS radiance data on short-range forecast skill in the RAP system is small but positive and statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. The RAP-specific channel selection and bias correction procedures described in this study were the basis for similar applications to other radiance datasets now assimilated in version 3 of RAP implemented at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in August 2016.

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