Adjoint Sensitivity of North Pacific Atmospheric River Forecasts
Journal Article - Open Access
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON United States
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The initial-state sensitivity and optimal perturbation growth for 24- and 36-h forecasts of low-level kinetic energy and precipitation over California during a series of atmospheric river AR events that took place in early 2017 are explored using adjoint-based tools from the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System COAMPS. This time period was part of the record-breaking winter of 2016-17 in which several high-impact ARs made landfall in California. The adjoint sensitivity indicates that both low-level winds and precipitation are most sensitive to mid- to lower-tropospheric perturbations in the initial state in and near the ARs. A case study indicates that the optimal moist perturbations occur most typically along the subsaturated edges of the ARs, in a warm conveyor belt region. The sensitivity to moisture is largest, followed by temperature and winds. A 1 g kg-1 perturbation to moisture may elicit twice as large a response in kinetic energy and precipitation as a 1 m s-1 perturbation to the zonal or meridional wind. In an average sense, the sensitivity and related optimal perturbations are very similar for the kinetic energy and precipitation response functions. However, on a case-by-case basis, differences in the sensitivity magnitude and optimal perturbation structures result in substantially different forecast perturbations, suggesting that optimal adaptive observing strategies should be metric dependent. While the nonlinear evolved perturbations are usually smaller by about 20 , on average than the expected linear perturbations, the optimal perturbations are still capable of producing rapid nonlinear perturbation growth. The positive correlation between sensitivity magnitude and wind speed forecast error or precipitation forecast differences supports the relevance of adjoint-based calculations for predictability studies.