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Improving Winter Storm Forecasts With Observing System Simulation Experiments (osses). Part 2: Evaluating A Satellite Gap With Idealized and Targeted Dropsondes


Numerous satellites utilized in numerical weather prediction are operating beyond their nominal lifetime, and their replacements are not yet operational. We investigate the impacts of a loss of U.S.-based microwave and infrared satellite data and the addition of dropsonde data on forecast skill by conducting Observing System Simulation Experiments with the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts T511 Nature Run and the National Center for Environmental Prediction Global Forecast System Model. Removing all U.S.-based microwave and infrared satellite data increases Global Forecast System analysis error, global forecast error, and forecast error during the first 36 hr of three winter storms that impact the United States. Data from Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership contributes roughly one third of the total satellite impacts. Assimilating “idealized” dropsondes (sampling over a large region of the Pacific/Arctic Oceans) significantly improves global forecasts and forecasts for all three storms. Assimilating targeted dropsonde flight paths using the Ensemble Transform Sensitivity method for 15 verification dates/locations for the three storms improves roughly 80% of forecasts relative to the control and 50% of forecasts relative to their corresponding experiments without dropsondes. However, removing satellite data degrades only 30% of targeted domain forecasts relative to the control. These results suggest that targeted dropsondes cannot compensate for a gap in satellite data regarding global average forecasts but may be able to compensate for specific targeted storms. However, as with any study of specific weather events, results are variable and more cases are needed to conclude whether targeted observations—as well as satellite data—can be expected to improve forecasts of specific weather events.

Article / Publication Data
Available Metadata
Accepted On
April 04, 2018
Fiscal Year
Peer Reviewed
Publication Name
Earth and Space Science
Published On
May 01, 2018
Publisher Name
American Geophysical Union
Print Volume
Print Number
Page Range
Submitted On
November 30, 2017


Not available


Authors who have authored or contributed to this publication.

  • Jason M. English - lead Gsl
    Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder
    NOAA/Global Systems Laboratory
  • Andrew C. Kren - second Other noaa
  • Tanya R. Peevey - third Gsl
    Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University
    NOAA/Global Systems Laboratory