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Validation and Sensitivities of Dynamic Precipitation Simulation for Winter Events over the Folsom Lake Watershed: 1964–99

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  • 1 Hydrologic Research Center, San Diego, California
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Abstract

A total of 62 winter-storm events in the period 1964–99 over the Folsom Lake watershed located at the windward slope of the Sierra Nevada were simulated with a 9-km resolution using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5). Mean areal precipitation (MAP) over the entire watershed and each of four subbasins was estimated based on gridded simulated precipitation. The simulated MAP was verified with MAP estimated (a) by the California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) for the four subbasins based on eight operational precipitation stations, and (b) for the period from 1980 to 1986, on the basis of a denser precipitation observing network deployed by the Sierra Cooperative Pilot Project (SCPP). A number of sensitivity runs were performed to understand the dependence of model precipitation on boundary and initial fields, cold versus warm start, and microphysical parameterization. The principal findings of the validation analysis are that (a) MM5 achieves a good percentage bias score of 103% in simulating Folsom basin MAP when compared to MAP derived from dense precipitation gauge networks; (b) spatial grid resolution higher than 9 km is necessary to reproduce the spatial MAP pattern among subbasins of the Folsom basin; and (c) the model performs better for heavy than for light and moderate precipitation. The analysis also showed significant simulation dependence on the spatial resolution of the boundary and initial fields and on the microphysical scheme used.

Corresponding author address: Konstantine P. Georgakakos, Hydrologic Research Center, 12780 High Bluff Drive, Suite 250, San Diego, CA 92130. Email: KGeorgakakos@hrc-lab.org

Abstract

A total of 62 winter-storm events in the period 1964–99 over the Folsom Lake watershed located at the windward slope of the Sierra Nevada were simulated with a 9-km resolution using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5). Mean areal precipitation (MAP) over the entire watershed and each of four subbasins was estimated based on gridded simulated precipitation. The simulated MAP was verified with MAP estimated (a) by the California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) for the four subbasins based on eight operational precipitation stations, and (b) for the period from 1980 to 1986, on the basis of a denser precipitation observing network deployed by the Sierra Cooperative Pilot Project (SCPP). A number of sensitivity runs were performed to understand the dependence of model precipitation on boundary and initial fields, cold versus warm start, and microphysical parameterization. The principal findings of the validation analysis are that (a) MM5 achieves a good percentage bias score of 103% in simulating Folsom basin MAP when compared to MAP derived from dense precipitation gauge networks; (b) spatial grid resolution higher than 9 km is necessary to reproduce the spatial MAP pattern among subbasins of the Folsom basin; and (c) the model performs better for heavy than for light and moderate precipitation. The analysis also showed significant simulation dependence on the spatial resolution of the boundary and initial fields and on the microphysical scheme used.

Corresponding author address: Konstantine P. Georgakakos, Hydrologic Research Center, 12780 High Bluff Drive, Suite 250, San Diego, CA 92130. Email: KGeorgakakos@hrc-lab.org

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