Assimilation of Satellite-Derived Soil Moisture for Improved Forecasts of the Great Plains Low-Level Jet

Craig Ferguson, Shubhi Agrawal, Mark Beauharnois, Geng Xia, D. Burrows, Lance Bosart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


In the context of forecasting societally impactful Great Plains low-level jets (GPLLJs), the potential added value of satellite soil moisture (SM) data assimilation (DA) is high. GPLLJs are both sensitive to regional soil moisture gradients and frequent drivers of severe weather, including mesoscale convective systems. An untested hypothesis is that SM DA is more effective in forecasts of weakly synoptically forced, or uncoupled GPLLJs, than in forecasts of cycloneinduced coupled GPLLJs. Using the NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) Model, 75 GPLLJs are simulated at 9-km resolution both with and without NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive SM DA. Differences in modeled SM, surface sensible (SH) and latent heat (LH) fluxes, 2-m temperature (T2), 2-m humidity (Q2), PBL height (PBLH), and 850-hPa wind speed (W850) are quantified for individual jets and jet-type event subsets over the south-central Great Plains, as well as separately for each GPLLJ sector (entrance, core, and exit). At the GPLLJ core, DA-related changes of up to 5.4 kgm22 in SMcan result in T2, Q2, LH, SH, PBLH, and W850 differences of 0.688C, 0.71 g kg22, 59.9Wm22, 52.4Wm22, 240 m, and 4ms21, respectively. W850 differences focus along the jet axis and tend to increase from south to north. Jet-type differences are most evident at the GPLLJ exit whereDAincreases and decreases W850 in uncoupled and coupled GPLLJs, respectively. Data assimilation marginally reduces negative wind speed bias for all jets, but the correction is greater for uncoupled GPLLJs, as hypothesized.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4607-4627
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Meteorological Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-78691


  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Data assimilation
  • Model errors
  • Model initialization
  • Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
  • Soil moisture


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