This study examines the performance of a hybrid ensemble-variational data assimilation system (E3DVar) that couples an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) with the three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVar) system for the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. The performance of E3DVar and the component EnKF and 3DVar systems are compared over the eastern United States for June 2003. Conventional sounding and surface observations as well as data from wind profilers, aircraft and ships, and cloud-tracked winds from satellites, are assimilated every 6 h during the experiments, and forecasts are verified using standard sounding observations. Forecasts with 12- to 72-h lead times are found to have noticeably smaller root-mean-square errors when initialized with the E3DVar system, as opposed to the EnKF, especially for the 12-h wind and moisture fields. The E3DVar system demonstrates similar performance as an EnKF, while using less than half the number of ensemble members, and is less sensitive to the use of a multiphysics ensemble to account for model errors. The E3DVar system is also compared with a similar hybrid method that replaces the 3DVar component with the WRF four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVar) method (denoted E4DVar). The E4DVar method demonstrated considerable improvements over E3DVar for nearly all model levels and variables at the shorter forecast lead times (12-48 h), but the forecast accuracies of all three ensemble-based methods (EnKF, E3DVar, and E4DVar) converge to similar results at longer lead times (60-72 h). Nevertheless, all methods that used ensemble information produced considerably better forecasts than the two methods that relied solely on static background error covariance (i.e., 3DVar and 4DVar).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science