A four-dimensional ensemble variational assimilation system for FY-3A satellite data is constructed using the Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (POD)-based ensemble four-dimensional variational (4DVar) assimilation method (referred to as POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System). Using the community radiative transfer model (CRTM) as the observation operator for satellite data, ensemble samples are mapped to the observation space and observation perturbations are generated. The observation perturbations matrix of satellite data is then decomposed to obtain the orthogonal eigenvectors and the eigenvalues for the observation perturbations matrix. The observation perturbations matrix and model perturbations matrix are transformed using orthogonal eigenvectors as basis functions and an explicit expression for the analysis increment is obtained. The expression includes the flow-dependent background error covariance and avoids the difficulty of solving the adjoint model for four-dimensional variational assimilation. In order to evaluate the capability of POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System, single observation experiments and observation system simulation experiments (OSSEs) for FY-3A MWHS and MWTS sensor data were designed to simulate a large-scale precipitation event occurring over the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The results of single observation experiments show that POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System can assimilate satellite data correctly, and the background error covariance of POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System has obvious flow-dependent characteristics. The results of the OSSEs show that the root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) of the assimilation analysis field with respect to the “true” field are lower than those of the background field, which indicates that the POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System can assimilate satellite data effectively. The sensitivity of the POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System to the percentage of truncated eigenvalues, the number of ensemble members, assimilation time window length, and the horizontal localization scale (which are key parameters for POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System) was tested in sensitivity experiments. These experiments show that if the percentage of truncated eigenvalues for POD decomposition is more than 80%, POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System has strong assimilation skill. Increasing the number of initial ensemble members has little influence on the assimilation ability of POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System. But, increasing the number of the physical ensemble members can clearly increase the assimilation ability. The assimilation skill of POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System is optimal when the length of the assimilation time window is 5 h or 3 h and the horizontal localization scale is 500 km or above. The assimilation ability of POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System is preliminarily tested by single observation experiments and OSSEs. The results show that it is feasible to assimilate satellite data using the POD-4DEnVar method. In the future, a variety of real satellite data and a variety of mesoscale weather cases will be used to further verify the stability of POD-4DEnVar Satellite Assimilation System.
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