Performance Assessment of New Land Surface and Planetary Boundary Layer Physics in the WRF-ARW

Robert C. Gilliam Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

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Jonathan E. Pleim Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

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Abstract

The Pleim–Xiu land surface model, Pleim surface layer scheme, and Asymmetric Convective Model (version 2) are now options in version 3.0 of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) Advanced Research WRF (ARW) core. These physics parameterizations were developed for the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5) and have been used extensively by the air quality modeling community, so there was a need based on several factors to extend these parameterizations to WRF. Simulations executed with the new WRF physics are compared with simulations produced with the MM5 and another WRF configuration with a focus on the replication of near-surface meteorological conditions and key planetary boundary layer features. The new physics in WRF is recommended for retrospective simulations, in particular, those used to drive air quality simulations. In the summer, the error of all variables analyzed was slightly lower across the domain in the WRF simulation that used the new physics than in the similar MM5 configuration. This simulation had an even lower error than the other more common WRF configuration. For the cold season case, the model simulation was not as accurate as the other simulations overall, but did well in terms of lower 2-m temperature error in the western part of the model domain (plains and Rocky Mountains) and most of the Northeast. Both MM5 and the other WRF configuration had lower errors across much of the southern and eastern United States in the winter. The 2-m water vapor mixing ratio and 10-m wind were generally well simulated by the new physics suite in WRF when contrasted with the other simulations and modeling studies. Simulated planetary boundary layer features were compared with both wind profiler and aircraft observations, and the new WRF physics results in a more precise wind and temperature structure not only in the stable boundary layer, but also within most of the convective boundary layer. These results suggest that the WRF performance is now at or above the level of MM5. It is thus recommended to drive future air quality applications.

Corresponding author address: Robert C. Gilliam, U.S. EPA, 109 TW Alexander Dr., Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Email: gilliam.robert@epa.gov

Abstract

The Pleim–Xiu land surface model, Pleim surface layer scheme, and Asymmetric Convective Model (version 2) are now options in version 3.0 of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) Advanced Research WRF (ARW) core. These physics parameterizations were developed for the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5) and have been used extensively by the air quality modeling community, so there was a need based on several factors to extend these parameterizations to WRF. Simulations executed with the new WRF physics are compared with simulations produced with the MM5 and another WRF configuration with a focus on the replication of near-surface meteorological conditions and key planetary boundary layer features. The new physics in WRF is recommended for retrospective simulations, in particular, those used to drive air quality simulations. In the summer, the error of all variables analyzed was slightly lower across the domain in the WRF simulation that used the new physics than in the similar MM5 configuration. This simulation had an even lower error than the other more common WRF configuration. For the cold season case, the model simulation was not as accurate as the other simulations overall, but did well in terms of lower 2-m temperature error in the western part of the model domain (plains and Rocky Mountains) and most of the Northeast. Both MM5 and the other WRF configuration had lower errors across much of the southern and eastern United States in the winter. The 2-m water vapor mixing ratio and 10-m wind were generally well simulated by the new physics suite in WRF when contrasted with the other simulations and modeling studies. Simulated planetary boundary layer features were compared with both wind profiler and aircraft observations, and the new WRF physics results in a more precise wind and temperature structure not only in the stable boundary layer, but also within most of the convective boundary layer. These results suggest that the WRF performance is now at or above the level of MM5. It is thus recommended to drive future air quality applications.

Corresponding author address: Robert C. Gilliam, U.S. EPA, 109 TW Alexander Dr., Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Email: gilliam.robert@epa.gov

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