A Review of Targeted Observations

Majumdar, Sharanya J.

Année de publication

It has long been conceived that numerical weather forecasts will benefit from the assimilation of supplementary observations that augment the conventional observational network. In particular, the concept of “targeting” observations in selected regions to improve a forecast of a high-impact weather event had been promoted and tested prior to and during the World Meteorological Organization/World Weather Research Programme’s The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) era (2005–14), through field campaigns and assimilation experiments. The end of the THORPEX era provided an appropriate opportunity to review the outcomes and, in particular, the evaluations of the influence of assimilating targeted observations on numerical weather predictions. The main outcome in the extratropics was that the influence of the targeted observations was positive though small (typically an average forecast error reduction of less than 10%). In the tropics, the targeted observations usually improved tropical cyclone track forecasts. Significantly, the results from these and other experiments were found to be sensitive to the sample chosen, the method of verification, and the numerical weather prediction system including the data assimilation scheme and the treatment of observations. Recommendations for the future include innovations to optimize the use of the Global Observing System via better exploitation of routinely available resources together with new instrumentation; expanding into the convective scale and mesoscale; investing quantitative evaluations and improving our understanding of how observations affect forecasts; and assessing the socioeconomic value of improved forecasts. A comprehensive bibliography of approximately 200 papers is provided in the online supplement to this paper.

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