How Can Existing Ground-Based Profiling Instruments Improve European Weather Forecasts?

Illingworth, A. J. ; Cimini, D. ; Haefele, A. ; Haeffelin, M. ; Hervo, M. ; Kotthaus, S. ; Löhnert, U. ; Martinet, Pauline ; Mattis, I. ; O'Connor, E. J. ; Potthast, R.

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<p align="justify">To realize the promise of improved predictions of hazardous weather such as flash floods, wind storms, fog, and poor air quality from high-resolution mesoscale models, the forecast models must be initialized with an accurate representation of the current state of the atmosphere, but the lowest few kilometers are hardly accessible by satellite, especially in dynamically active conditions. We report on recent European developments in the exploitation of existing ground-based profiling instruments so that they are networked and able to send data in real time to forecast centers. The three classes of instruments are i) automatic lidars and ceilometers providing backscatter profiles of clouds, aerosols, dust, fog, and volcanic ash, the last two being especially important for air traffic control; ii) Doppler wind lidars deriving profiles of wind, turbulence, wind shear, wind gusts, and low-level jets; and iii) microwave radiometers estimating profiles of temperature and humidity in nearly all weather conditions. The project includes collaboration from 22 European countries and 15 European national weather services, which involves the implementation of common operating procedures, instrument calibrations, data formats, and retrieval algorithms. Currently, data from 265 ceilometers in 19 countries are being distributed in near-real time to national weather forecast centers; this should soon rise to many hundreds. One wind lidar is currently delivering real time data rising to 5 by the end of 2019, and the plan is to incorporate radiometers in 2020. Initial data assimilation tests indicate a positive impact of the new data.</p>
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