The Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) mission was launched in April 2006. As part of its mission, COSMIC will provide approximately 2500–3000 global positioning system (GPS) radio occultation (RO) soundings per day distributed uniformly around the globe. In this study, a series of sensitivity experiments are conducted to assess the potential impact of COSMIC GPS RO data on the regional weather analysis over the Antarctic. Soundings of refractivity are assimilated into the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model using its three-dimensional variational data assimilation system. First, the sensitivity of the analysis to the background error statistics and balance constraints is analyzed. Then the effects of the data distribution and the observational error of the simulated refractivity observations are examined. In this study, the simulated soundings are based on a realistic set of orbit parameters of the COSMIC constellation. Analysis of the assimilation results indicates the significant potential impact of COSMIC data on regional analyses over the Antarctic. In the one case studied here, the root-mean-square differences between the background and observed values are reduced by 12% in the horizontal wind component, 17% in the temperature variable, 8% in the specific humidity, and 22% in the pressure field when COSMIC GPS RO data are assimilated into the system by using a 6-h assimilation time window. These preliminary results suggest that COSMIC GPS RO data can have a significant impact on operational numerical weather analysis in the Antarctic.
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