• T-PARC;
  • observing system experiments;
  • data assimilation


A unique airborne differential absorption lidar (DIAL) for water vapour observations was developed at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). Installed on board the DLR Falcon 20 aircraft, the system measured a dataset of about 3900 water vapour profiles during the T-PARC field campaign. These high-resolution humidity observations were assimilated into the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) global model using a version of the operational four-dimensional variational data assimilation system. The assimilation system is able to extract the information for DIAL observations, and verification with independent dropsonde observations shows a reduction in the analysis error when DIAL water vapour observations are assimilated. The forecast influence of the humidity observations is found to be small in most cases, but the observations are able to affect the forecast considerably under certain conditions. Systematic errors are investigated by comparison between humidity model fields, DIAL and dropsonde observations. Overall, DIAL observations are roughly 7–10% drier than model fields throughout the troposphere. Comparison with dropsonde observations suggests that the DIAL observations are too dry in the lower troposphere but not above it. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society