2011 Volume 89 Issue 1 Pages 67-88
Four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) data assimilation (DA) experiments using Global Positioning System (GPS)-derived precipitable water vapor (PWV) were conducted for the tropical cyclone (TC) Nargis in 2008. In order to analyze the initial field at 1200 UTC 30 April 2008, 12, 24, 36, and 48 h sequential DA experiments with 3 h assimilation windows were performed. The initial fields made by these DA experiments were applied to subsequent forecast experiments using a nonhydrostatic model (NHM) with a horizontal resolution of 10 km. NHM predictions using initial fields produced by DA experiments that used only ordinary observational data (without GPS PWV) exhibited a large variation of predicted maximum TC intensity (958 to 983 hPa) for each experiment. In these experiments, a longer assimilation period did not necessarily result in better prediction. The DA of GPS PWV yielded a smaller variation of predicted maximum TC intensity (964 to 974 hPa), and a longer assimilation period tended to bring deeper depression of TC central pressure. Overall, TC intensities determined by DA experiments with GPS data were closer to the best track produced by the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) New Delhi than the DA experiments without GPS data. The 48 h DA without GPS PWV resulted in the weakest prediction of TC development with the deepest TC central pressure of 983 hPa, while 48 h DA with GPS PWV successfully predicted rapid TC development with the deepest pressure of 967 hPa. One cause of the incomplete development of Nargis in the 48 h DA experiment without GPS PWV was insufficient observations in the Bay of Bengal, especially in the first 12 h. Underestimation of precipitation was conspicuous in the first 12 h of the DA. Implementation of GPS PWV into the DA contributed to increasing the precipitation and changed the fields of pressure and wind in the bay. In the first several hours, modifications of the fields of pressure and wind around the Andaman Islands were conspicuous. These affected areas extended with time and created a more favorable environment for TC development.