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  • Author or Editor: A. M. Rhoades x
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Zexuan Xu
,
Alan M. Rhoades
,
Hans Johansen
,
Paul A. Ullrich
, and
William D. Collins

Abstract

Dynamical downscaling is a widely used technique to properly capture regional surface heterogeneities that shape the local hydroclimatology. However, in the context of dynamical downscaling, the impacts on simulation fidelity have not been comprehensively evaluated across many user-specified factors, including the refinements of model horizontal resolution, large-scale forcing datasets, and dynamical cores. Two global-to-regional downscaling methods are used to assess these: specifically, the variable-resolution Community Earth System Model (VR-CESM) and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with horizontal resolutions of 28, 14, and 7 km. The modeling strategies are assessed by comparing the VR-CESM and WRF simulations with consistent physical parameterizations and grid domains. Two groups of WRF Models are driven by either the NCEP reanalysis dataset (WRF_NCEP) or VR-CESM7 results (WRF_VRCESM) to evaluate the effects of large-scale forcing datasets. The simulated hydroclimatologies are compared with reference datasets for key properties including total precipitation, snow cover, snow water equivalent (SWE), and surface temperature. The large-scale forcing datasets are critical to the WRF simulations of total precipitation but not surface temperature, controlled by the wind field and atmospheric moisture transport at the ocean boundary. No significant benefit is found in the regional average simulated hydroclimatology by increasing horizontal resolution refinement from 28 to 7 km, probably due to the systematic biases from the diagnostic treatment of rainfall and snowfall in the microphysics scheme. The choice of dynamical core has little impact on total precipitation but significantly determines simulated surface temperature, which is affected by the snow-albedo feedback in winter and soil moisture estimations in summer.

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W. J. Rudisill
,
A. N. Flores
,
H. P. Marshall
,
E. Siirila-Woodburn
,
D. R. Feldman
,
A. M. Rhoades
,
Z. Xu
, and
A. Morales

Abstract

Cloud microphysical processes are an important facet of atmospheric modeling, as they can control the initiation and rates of snowfall. Thus, parameterizations of these processes have important implications for modeling seasonal snow accumulation. We conduct experiments with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF V4.3.3) Model using three different microphysics parameterizations, including a sophisticated new scheme (ISHMAEL). Simulations are conducted for two cold seasons (2018 and 2019) centered on the Colorado Rockies’ ∼750-km2 East River watershed. Precipitation efficiencies are quantified using a drying-ratio mass budget approach and point evaluations are performed against three NRCS SNOTEL stations. Precipitation and meteorological outputs from each are used to force a land surface model (Noah-MP) so that peak snow accumulation can be compared against airborne snow lidar products. We find that microphysical parameterization choice alone has a modest impact on total precipitation on the order of ±3% watershed-wide, and as high as 15% for certain regions, similar to other studies comparing the same parameterizations. Precipitation biases evaluated against SNOTEL are 15% ± 13%. WRF Noah-MP configurations produced snow water equivalents with good correlations with airborne lidar products at a 1-km spatial resolution: Pearson’s r values of 0.9, RMSEs between 8 and 17 cm, and percent biases of 3%–15%. Noah-MP with precipitation from the PRISM geostatistical precipitation product leads to a peak SWE underestimation of 32% in both years examined, and a weaker spatial correlation than the WRF configurations. We fall short of identifying a clearly superior microphysical parameterization but conclude that snow lidar is a valuable nontraditional indicator of model performance.

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