Mesoscale Predictability and Error Growth in Short Range Ensemble Forecasts
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Although it was originally suggested that small-scale, unresolved errors corrupt forecasts at all scales through an inverse error cascade, some authors have proposed that those mesoscale circulations resulting from stationary forcing on the larger scale may inherit the predictability of the large-scale motions. Further, the relative contributions of large- and small-scale uncertainties in producing error growth in the mesoscales remain largely unknown. Here, 100 member ensemble forecasts are initialized from an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) to simulate two winter storms impacting the East Coast of the United States in 2010. Four verification metrics are considered: the local snow water equivalence, total liquid water, and 850 hPa temperatures representing mesoscale features; and the sea level pressure field representing a synoptic feature. It is found that while the predictability of the mesoscale features can be tied to the synoptic forecast, significant uncertainty existed on the synoptic scale at lead times as short as 18 hours. Therefore, mesoscale details remained uncertain in both storms due to uncertainties at the large scale. Additionally, the ensemble perturbation kinetic energy did not show an appreciable upscale propagation of error for either case. Instead, the initial condition perturbations from the cycling EnKF were maximized at large scales and immediately amplified at all scales without requiring initial upscale propagation. This suggests that relatively small errors in the synoptic-scale initialization may have more importance in limiting predictability than errors in the unresolved, small-scale initial conditions.
- Atmospheric sciences