Intercomparison and coupling of ensemble and four-dimensional variational data assimilation methods for the analysis and forecasting of Hurricane Karl (2010)

Jonathan Poterjoy, Fuqing Zhang

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16 Scopus citations


This study examines the performance of ensemble and variational data assimilation systems for the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. These methods include an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), an incremental four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVar) system, and a hybrid system that uses a two-way coupling between the two approaches (E4DVar). The three methods are applied to assimilate routinely collected data and field observations over a 10-day period that spans the life cycle of Hurricane Karl (2010), including the pregenesis disturbance that preceded its development into a tropical cyclone. In general, forecasts from the E4DVar analyses are found to produce smaller 48-72-h forecast errors than the benchmark EnKF and 4DVar methods for all variables and verification methods tested in this study. The improved representation of low- and midlevel moisture and vorticity in the E4DVar analyses leads to more accurate track and intensity predictions by this system. In particular, E4DVar analyses provide persistently more skillful genesis and rapid intensification forecasts than the EnKF and 4DVar methods during cycling. The data assimilation experiments also expose additional benefits of the hybrid system in terms of physical balance, computational cost, and the treatment of asynoptic observations near the beginning of the assimilation window. These factors make it a practical data assimilation method for mesoscale analysis and forecasting, and for tropical cyclone prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3347-3364
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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