Articles | Volume 18, issue 3
Research article
27 Jun 2011
Research article |  | 27 Jun 2011

Strategies for coupling global and limited-area ensemble Kalman filter assimilation

D. Merkova, I. Szunyogh, and E. Ott

Abstract. This paper compares the forecast performance of four strategies for coupling global and limited area data assimilation: three strategies propagate information from the global to the limited area process, while the fourth strategy feeds back information from the limited area to the global process. All four strategies are formulated in the Local Ensemble Transform Kalman Filter (LETKF) framework.

Numerical experiments are carried out with the model component of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Global Forecast System (GFS) and the NCEP Regional Spectral Model (RSM). The limited area domain is an extended North-America region that includes part of the north-east Pacific. The GFS is integrated at horizontal resolution T62 (about 150 km in the mid-latitudes), while the RSM is integrated at horizontal resolution 48 km. Experiments are carried out both under the perfect model hypothesis and in a realistic setting. The coupling strategies are evaluated by comparing their deterministic forecast performance at 12-h and 48-h lead times.

The results suggest that the limited area data assimilation system has the potential to enhance the forecasts at 12-h lead time in the limited area domain at the synoptic and sub-synoptic scales (in the global wave number range of about 10 to 40). There is a clear indication that between the forecast performance of the different coupling strategies those that cycle the limited area assimilation process produce the most accurate forecasts. In the realistic setting, at 12-h forecast time the limited area systems produce more modest improvements compared to the global system than under the perfect model hypothesis, and at 48-h forecast time the global forecasts are more accurate than the limited area forecasts.