Articles | Volume 21, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 19–39, 2014

Special issue: Ensemble methods in geophysical sciences

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 19–39, 2014

Research article 08 Jan 2014

Research article | 08 Jan 2014

Representation of model error in a convective-scale ensemble prediction system

L. H. Baker, A. C. Rudd, S. Migliorini, and R. N. Bannister L. H. Baker et al.
  • Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Earley Gate, P.O. Box 243, Reading, RG6 6BB, UK

Abstract. In this paper ensembles of forecasts (of up to six hours) are studied from a convection-permitting model with a representation of model error due to unresolved processes. The ensemble prediction system (EPS) used is an experimental convection-permitting version of the UK Met Office's 24-member Global and Regional Ensemble Prediction System (MOGREPS). The method of representing model error variability, which perturbs parameters within the model's parameterisation schemes, has been modified and we investigate the impact of applying this scheme in different ways. These are: a control ensemble where all ensemble members have the same parameter values; an ensemble where the parameters are different between members, but fixed in time; and ensembles where the parameters are updated randomly every 30 or 60 min. The choice of parameters and their ranges of variability have been determined from expert opinion and parameter sensitivity tests. A case of frontal rain over the southern UK has been chosen, which has a multi-banded rainfall structure.

The consequences of including model error variability in the case studied are mixed and are summarised as follows. The multiple banding, evident in the radar, is not captured for any single member. However, the single band is positioned in some members where a secondary band is present in the radar. This is found for all ensembles studied. Adding model error variability with fixed parameters in time does increase the ensemble spread for near-surface variables like wind and temperature, but can actually decrease the spread of the rainfall. Perturbing the parameters periodically throughout the forecast does not further increase the spread and exhibits "jumpiness" in the spread at times when the parameters are perturbed. Adding model error variability gives an improvement in forecast skill after the first 2–3 h of the forecast for near-surface temperature and relative humidity. For precipitation skill scores, adding model error variability has the effect of improving the skill in the first 1–2 h of the forecast, but then of reducing the skill after that. Complementary experiments were performed where the only difference between members was the set of parameter values (i.e. no initial condition variability). The resulting spread was found to be significantly less than the spread from initial condition variability alone.