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Isidora Jankov
,
Paul J. Schultz
,
Christopher J. Anderson
, and
Steven E. Koch

Abstract

The most significant precipitation events in California occur during the winter and are often related to synoptic-scale storms from the Pacific Ocean. Because of the terrain characteristics and the fact that the urban and infrastructural expansion is concentrated in lower elevation areas of the California Central Valley, a high risk of flooding is usually associated with these events. In the present study, the area of interest was the American River basin (ARB). The main focus of the present study was to investigate methods for Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) improvement by estimating the impact that various microphysical schemes, planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes, and initialization methods have on cold season precipitation, primarily orographically induced. For this purpose, 3-km grid spacing Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model simulations of four Hydrometeorological Test bed (HMT) events were used. For each event, four different microphysical schemes and two different PBL schemes were used. All runs were initialized with both a diabatic Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS) “hot” start and 40-km eta analyses.

To quantify the impact of physical schemes, their interactions, and initial conditions upon simulated rain volume, the factor separation methodology was used. The results showed that simulated rain volume was particularly affected by changes in microphysical schemes for both initializations. When the initialization was changed from the LAPS to the eta analysis, the change in the PBL scheme and corresponding synergistic terms (which corresponded to the interactions between different microphysical and PBL schemes) resulted in a statistically significant impact on rain volume. In addition, by combining model runs based on the knowledge about their impact on simulated rain volume obtained through the factor separation methodology, the bias in simulated rain volume was reduced.

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