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Chen, I-Han; Hong, Jing-Shan; Tsai, Ya-Ting; Fong, Chin-Tzu (2020): Improving Afternoon Thunderstorm Prediction over Taiwan through 3DVar-Based Radar and Surface Data Assimilation. In: Weather and Forecasting, Vol. 35, No. 6: pp. 2603-2620
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Recently, the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan developed a WRF- and WRF data assimilation (WRFDA)-based convective-scale data assimilation system to increase model predictability toward high-impact weather. In this study, we focus on afternoon thunderstorm (AT) prediction and investigate the following questions: 1) Is the designation of a rapid update cycle strategy with a blending scheme effective? 2) Can surface data assimilation contribute positively to AT prediction under the complex geography of Taiwan island? 3) What is the relative importance between radar and surface observation to AT prediction? 4) Can we increase the AT forecast lead time in the morning through data assimilation? Consecutive ATs from 30 June to 8 July 2017 are investigated. Five experiments, each having 240 continuous cycles, are designed. Results show that employing continuous cycles with a blending scheme mitigates model spinup compared with downscaled forecasts. Although there are few radar echoes before AT initiation, assimilating radar observations is still crucial since it largely corrects model errors in cycles. However, assimilating surface observations is more important compared with radar in terms of extending forecast lead time in the morning. Either radar or surface observations contribute positively, and assimilating both has the highest QPF score. Assimilating surface observations systematically improves surface wind and temperature predictions based on 240 cases. A case study demonstrates that the model can capture the AT initiation and development by assimilating surface and radar observations. Its cold pool and outflow boundary prediction are also improved. In this case, the assimilation of surface wind and water vapor in the morning contributes more compared with temperature and pressure.