A New Theoretical Framework for Understanding Multiscale Atmospheric Predictability

Author
Publication Year
2020

Type

Journal Article
Abstract

Here we present a new theoretical framework that connects the error growth behavior in numerical weather prediction (NWP) with the atmospheric kinetic energy spectrum. Building on previous studies, our newly proposed framework applies to the canonical observed atmospheric spectrum that has a -3 slope at synoptic scales and a -5/3 slope at smaller scales. Based on this realistic hybrid energy spectrum, our new experiment using hybrid numerical models provides reasonable estimations for the finite predictable ranges at different scales. We further derive an analytical equation that helps understand the error growth behavior. Despite its simplicity, this new analytical error growth equation is capable of capturing the results of previous comprehensive theoretical and observational studies of atmospheric predictability. The success of this new theoretical framework highlights the combined effects of quasi-two-dimensional dynamics at synoptic-scales (-3 slope) and three-dimensional turbulence-like small-scale chaotic flows (-5/3 slope) in dictating the error growth. It is proposed that this new framework could serve as a guide for understanding and estimating the predictability limit in the real world.

Journal
Journal of Atmospheric Sciences
Volume
77
Issue
7
Pages
2297–2309
Date Published
July 2020
Full text