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Yongkang Xue, Ratko Vasic, Zavisa Janjic, Fedor Mesinger, and Kenneth E. Mitchell


This study investigates the capability of the dynamic downscaling method (DDM) in a North American regional climate study using the Eta/Simplified Simple Biosphere (SSiB) Regional Climate Model (RCM). The main objective is to understand whether the Eta/SSiB RCM is capable of simulating North American regional climate features, mainly precipitation, at different scales under imposed boundary conditions. The summer of 1998 was selected for this study and the summers of 1993 and 1995 were used to confirm the 1998 results. The observed precipitation, NCEP–NCAR Global Reanalysis (NNGR), and North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) were used for evaluation of the model’s simulations and/or as lateral boundary conditions (LBCs). A spectral analysis was applied to quantitatively examine the RCM’s downscaling ability at different scales.

The simulations indicated that choice of domain size, LBCs, and grid spacing were crucial for the DDM. Several tests with different domain sizes indicated that the model in the North American climate simulation was particularly sensitive to its southern boundary position because of the importance of moisture transport by the southerly low-level jet (LLJ) in summer precipitation. Among these tests, only the RCM with 32-km resolution and NNGR LBC or with 80-km resolution and NARR LBC, in conjunction with appropriate domain sizes, was able to properly simulate precipitation and other atmospheric variables—especially humidity over the southeastern United States—during all three summer months—and produce a better spectral power distribution than that associated with the imposed LBC (for the 32-km case) and retain spectral power for large wavelengths (for the 80-km case). The analysis suggests that there might be strong atmospheric components of high-frequency variability over the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern United States.

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Fedor Mesinger, Thomas L. Black, David W. Plummer, and John H. Ward


A step-mountain (eta) coordinate limited-area model is being developed at the National Meteorological Center (NMC) to improve forecasts of severe weather and other mesoscale phenomena. Precipitation forecasts are reviewed for the 20-day period 16 June–5 July 1989. This period was chosen not only because of intense warm-season precipitation, including that of Tropical Storm Allison, but also because two sets of forecasts from NMC's nested grid model (NGM) were available for comparison, one using the operational Kuo convection and the other using the eta model's Betts-Miller convection scheme. Thus, a three-way model comparison was possible.

Particular attention is paid to the forecasts of precipitation maxima. With verification performed on accumulated 24-h amounts averaged over the limited fine mesh (LFM) model grid boxes, the eta model shows skill at the highest observed precipitation category in 14 out of 58 verification periods, about one fourth of all cases. The forecasts also show a high degree of consistency in that successful forecasts starting from different initial times are produced for the same verification period.

Although the eta model was less successful than the NGM in predicting the lightest precipitation category, it demonstrated noted improvement in the 0.50-inch and greater categories, regardless of the convection scheme used in the NGM. Evidence is presented which indicates that the greater accuracy of the eta model is primarily a result of its space differencing schemes.

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Fedor Mesinger, Zaviša I. Janjić, Slobodan Ničković, Dušanka Gavrilov, and Dennis G. Deaven


The problem of the pressure gradient force error in the case of the terrain-following (sigma) coordinate does not appear to have a solution. The problem is not one of truncation error in the calculation of space derivatives involved. Thus, with temperature profiles resulting in large errors, an increase in vertical resolution may not reduce and is even likely to increase the error. Therefore, an approach abandoning the sigma system has been proposed. It involves the use of “step” mountains with coordinate surfaces prescribed to remain at fixed elevations at places where they touch (and define) or intersect the ground surface. Thus, the coordinate surfaces are quasi-horizontal, and the sigma system problem is not present. At the same time, the simplicity of the sigma system is maintained.

In this paper, design of the model (“silhouette” averaged) mountains, properties of the wall boundary condition, and the scheme for calculation of the potential to kinetic energy conversion are presented. For an advection scheme achieving a strict control of the nonlinear energy cascade on the semistaggered grid, it is demonstrated that a straightforward no-slip wall boundary condition maintains conservation properties of the scheme with no vertical walls, which are important from the point of view of the control of this energy cascade from large to small scales. However, with that simple boundary condition considered, momentum is not conserved. The scheme conserving energy in conversion between the potential and kinetic energy, given earlier for the one-dimensional case, is extended to two dimensions.

Results of real data experiments are described, testing the performance of the resulting “Step-mountain” model. An attractive feature of a step-mountain (“eta”) model is that it can easily be run as a sigma system model, the only difference being the definition of ground surface grid point values of the vertical coordinate. This permits a comparison of the sigma and the eta formulations. Two experiments of this kind have been made, with a model version including realistic steep mountains (steps at 290, 1112 and 2433 m). They have both revealed a substantial amount of noise resulting from the sigma, as compared to the eta, formulation. One of these experiments, especially with the step mountains, gave a rather successful simulation of the perhaps difficult “historic” Buzzi–Tibaldi case of Genoa lee cyclogenesis. A parallel experiment showed that, starting with the same initial data, one obtains no cyclogenesis without mountains. Still, the mountains experiment did simulate the accompanying midtropospheric cutoff, a phenomenon that apparently has not been reproduced in previous simulations of mountain-induced Genoa lee cyclogeneses.

For a North American limited area region, experimental step-mountain simulations were performed for a case of March 1984, involving development of a secondary storm southeast of the Appalachians. Neither the then operational U.S. National Meteorological Center's Limited Area Forecast Model (LFM) nor the recently introduced Nested Grid Model (NGM) were successful in simulating the redevelopment. On the other hand, the step-mountain model, with a space resolution set up to mimic that of NGM, successfully simulated the ridging that indicates the redevelopment.

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Fedor Mesinger, Geoff DiMego, Eugenia Kalnay, Kenneth Mitchell, Perry C. Shafran, Wesley Ebisuzaki, Dušan Jović, Jack Woollen, Eric Rogers, Ernesto H. Berbery, Michael B. Ek, Yun Fan, Robert Grumbine, Wayne Higgins, Hong Li, Ying Lin, Geoff Manikin, David Parrish, and Wei Shi

In 1997, during the late stages of production of NCEP–NCAR Global Reanalysis (GR), exploration of a regional reanalysis project was suggested by the GR project's Advisory Committee, “particularly if the RDAS [Regional Data Assimilation System] is significantly better than the global reanalysis at capturing the regional hydrological cycle, the diurnal cycle and other important features of weather and climate variability.” Following a 6-yr development and production effort, NCEP's North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) project was completed in 2004, and data are now available to the scientific community. Along with the use of the NCEP Eta model and its Data Assimilation System (at 32-km–45-layer resolution with 3-hourly output), the hallmarks of the NARR are the incorporation of hourly assimilation of precipitation, which leverages a comprehensive precipitation analysis effort, the use of a recent version of the Noah land surface model, and the use of numerous other datasets that are additional or improved compared to the GR. Following the practice applied to NCEP's GR, the 25-yr NARR retrospective production period (1979–2003) is augmented by the construction and daily execution of a system for near-real-time continuation of the NARR, known as the Regional Climate Data Assimilation System (R-CDAS). Highlights of the NARR results are presented: precipitation over the continental United States (CONUS), which is seen to be very near the ingested analyzed precipitation; fits of tropospheric temperatures and winds to rawinsonde observations; and fits of 2-m temperatures and 10-m winds to surface station observations. The aforementioned fits are compared to those of the NCEP–Department of Energy (DOE) Global Reanalysis (GR2). Not only have the expectations cited above been fully met, but very substantial improvements in the accuracy of temperatures and winds compared to that of GR2 are achieved throughout the troposphere. Finally, the numerous datasets produced are outlined and information is provided on the data archiving and present data availability.

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