The influence of spectral nudging on typhoon formation in regional climate models


Regional climate models can successfully simulate tropical cyclones and typhoons. This has been shown and was evaluated for hindcast studies of the past few decades. But often global and regional weather phenomena are not simulated at the observed location, or occur too often or seldom even though the regional model is driven by global reanalysis data which constitute a near-realistic state of the global atmosphere. Therefore, several techniques have been developed in order to make the regional model follow the global state more closely. One is spectral nudging, which is applied for horizontal wind components with increasing strength for higher model levels in this study. The aim of this study is to show the influence that this method has on the formation of tropical cyclones (TC) in regional climate models. Two ensemble simulations (each with five simulations) were computed for Southeast Asia and the Northwestern Pacific for the typhoon season 2004, one with spectral nudging and one without. First of all, spectral nudging reduced the overall TC number by about a factor of 2. But the number of tracks which are similar to observed best track data (BTD) was greatly increased. Also, spatial track density patterns were found to be more similar when using spectral nudging. The tracks merge after a short time for the spectral nudging simulations and then follow the BTD closely; for the no nudge cases the similarity is greatly reduced. A comparison of seasonal precipitation, geopotential height, and temperature fields at several height levels with observations and reanalysis data showed overall a smaller ensemble spread, higher pattern correlations and reduced root mean square errors and biases for the spectral nudged simulations. Vertical temperature profiles for selected TCs indicate that spectral nudging is not inhibiting TC development at higher levels. Both the Madden–Julian Oscillation and monsoonal precipitation are reproduced realistically by the regional model, with results slightly closer to reanalysis data for the spectral nudged simulations. On the basis of this regional climate model hindcast study of a single typhoon season, spectral nudging seems to be favourable since it has mostly positive effects on typhoon formation, location and general circulation patterns in the generation areas of TCs.
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