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On the impact of humidity observations in numerical weather prediction

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The impact of humidity observations on forecast skill is explored by producing a series of global forecasts using initial data derived from the ERA-40 reanalyses system, in which all humidity data have been removed during the data assimilation. The new forecasts have been compared with the original ERA-40 analyses and forecasts made from them. Both sets of forecasts show virtually identical prediction skill in the extratropics and the tropics. Differences between the forecasts are small and undergo characteristic amplification rate. There are larger differences in temperature and geopotential in the tropics but the differences are small-scale and unstructured and have no noticeable effect on the skill of the wind forecasts. The results highlight the current very limited impact of the humidity observations, used to produce the initial state, on the forecasts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Environmental Systems Science Centre (ESSC), University of Reading, Harry Pitt Building, Whiteknights, PO Box 238, Reading, RG6 6AL, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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