Some challenges of middle atmosphere data assimilation



The assimilation of measurements from the stratosphere and mesosphere is becoming increasingly common as the lids of weather prediction and climate models rise into the mesosphere and thermosphere. However, the dynamics of the middle atmosphere pose specific challenges to the assimilation of measurements from this region. Forecast-error variances can be very large in the mesosphere and this can render assimilation schemes very sensitive to the details of the specification of forecast error correlations. An example is shown where observations in the stratosphere are able to produce increments in the mesosphere. Such sensitivity of the assimilation scheme to misspecification of covariances can also amplify any existing biases in measurements or forecasts. Since both models and measurements of the middle atmosphere are known to have biases, the separation of these sources of bias remains a issue. Finally, well-known deficiencies of assimilation schemes, such as the production of imbalanced states or the assumption of zero bias, are proposed explanations for the inaccurate transport resulting from assimilated winds. The inability of assimilated winds to accurately transport constituents in the middle atmosphere remains a fundamental issue limiting the use of assimilated products for applications involving longer time-scales. Copyright © 2005 Royal Meteorological Society