Evaluating Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model predictions of turbulent flow parameters in a dry convective boundary layer


Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model predictions using different boundary layer schemes and horizontal grid spacings were compared with observational and numerical large-eddy simulation data for conditions corresponding to a dry atmospheric convective boundary layer (CBL) over the southern Great Plains (SGP). The first studied case exhibited a dryline passage during the simulation window, and the second studied case was used to examine the CBL in a post-cold-frontal environment. The model runs were conducted with three boundary layer parameterization schemes (Yonsei University, Mellor-Yamada-Janjic, and asymmetrical convective) commonly employed within the WRF model environment to represent effects of small-scale turbulent transport. A study domain was centered over the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program SGP site in Lamont, Oklahoma. Results show that near-surface flow and turbulence parameters are predicted reasonably well with all tested horizontal grid spacings (1, 2, and 4 km) and that value added through refining grid spacing was minimal at best for conditions considered in this study. In accord with this result, it was suggested that the 16-fold increase in computing overhead associated with changing from 4- to 1-km grid spacing was not justified. Therefore, only differences among schemes at 4-km spacing were presented in detail. WRF model predictions generally overestimated the contribution to turbulence generation by mechanical forcing over buoyancy forcing in both studied CBL cases. Nonlocal parameterization schemes were found to match observational data more closely than did the local scheme, although differences among the predictions with all three schemes were relatively small.

Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 50(12), 2429–2444
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Dr. Jeremy A. Gibbs
Dr. Jeremy A. Gibbs
Research Meteorologist

My name is Jeremy Gibbs. I am a Research Meteorologist at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory. My research includes computational and theoretical studies of atmospheric boundary-layer flows, turbulence modeling, land-surface modeling, parameterization of boundary-layer and surface-layer interactions, and multi-scale numerical weather prediction. I am currently working on projects to improve atmospheric models in the areas of scale-aware boundary-layer physics, heterogeneous boundary layers, and other storm-scale phenomena.