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Open Access Impact of profile observations on the German Weather Service's NWP system

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In preparation for a study on the potential impact of a space-borne Doppler wind lidar on the quality of NWP products, a series of assimilations and forecasts were conducted to estimate the potential benefit of conventional wind and temperature profile measurements over North America to numerical weather forecasts for the Northern Hemisphere and specifically, Europe. A comparison of the forecast quality of a control run, using all available observations, to experiments omitting wind and temperature data from specific instruments (radiosondes, pilot stations and aircraft) makes it possible to estimate the importance of the omitted data, and clarify whether winds derived from the geostrophic relation are sufficient or whether observed wind profiles result in a more realistic definition of the initial state for numerical weather prediction systems in the extra-tropic regions. Very little impact on forecast quality was noted when wind or temperature observations from radiosondes and pilots were excluded from the assimilation process. However, a clear deterioration in forecast quality was observed when additionally all available wind or temperature measurements from aircraft were also withheld. Comparisons of the relative utility of wind and temperature observations over North America show that assimilations and forecasts derive more benefit from wind data than from temperature data. The greatest deterioration could be observed if both wind and temperature observations were omitted from the assimilation cycle. By tracing the differences between the control forecasts and the experimental forecasts to their initial difference, the regions around Hudson Bay, Novia Scotia, Buffin Bay and Northern Canada could be identified as sensitive areas, i.e. those where a missing observation could have a substantial effect on the forecast for the Northern Hemisphere and Europe. Comparisons of the relative utility of radiosonde wind and temperature observations over Canada and Alaska to numerical weather forecast quality, in contrast to the sonde and aircraft network over the United States, reveal the importance of the conventional radiosonde network in the higher northern latitudes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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