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Jordan G. Powers, Joseph B. Klemp, William C. Skamarock, Christopher A. Davis, Jimy Dudhia, David O. Gill, Janice L. Coen, David J. Gochis, Ravan Ahmadov, Steven E. Peckham, Georg A. Grell, John Michalakes, Samuel Trahan, Stanley G. Benjamin, Curtis R. Alexander, Geoffrey J. Dimego, Wei Wang, Craig S. Schwartz, Glen S. Romine, Zhiquan Liu, Chris Snyder, Fei Chen, Michael J. Barlage, Wei Yu, and Michael G. Duda


Since its initial release in 2000, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model has become one of the world’s most widely used numerical weather prediction models. Designed to serve both research and operational needs, it has grown to offer a spectrum of options and capabilities for a wide range of applications. In addition, it underlies a number of tailored systems that address Earth system modeling beyond weather. While the WRF Model has a centralized support effort, it has become a truly community model, driven by the developments and contributions of an active worldwide user base. The WRF Model sees significant use for operational forecasting, and its research implementations are pushing the boundaries of finescale atmospheric simulation. Future model directions include developments in physics, exploiting emerging compute technologies, and ever-innovative applications. From its contributions to research, forecasting, educational, and commercial efforts worldwide, the WRF Model has made a significant mark on numerical weather prediction and atmospheric science.

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Paul W. Staten, Kevin M. Grise, Sean M. Davis, Kristopher B. Karnauskas, Darryn W. Waugh, Amanda C. Maycock, Qiang Fu, Kerry Cook, Ori Adam, Isla R. Simpson, Robert J Allen, Karen Rosenlof, Gang Chen, Caroline C. Ummenhofer, Xiao-Wei Quan, James P. Kossin, Nicholas A. Davis, and Seok-Woo Son


Over the past 15 years, numerous studies have suggested that the sinking branches of Earth’s Hadley circulation and the associated subtropical dry zones have shifted poleward over the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. Early estimates of this tropical widening from satellite observations and reanalyses varied from 0.25° to 3° latitude per decade, while estimates from global climate models show widening at the lower end of the observed range. In 2016, two working groups, the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) working group on the Changing Width of the Tropical Belt and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) Tropical Width Diagnostics Intercomparison Project, were formed to synthesize current understanding of the magnitude, causes, and impacts of the recent tropical widening evident in observations. These working groups concluded that the large rates of observed tropical widening noted by earlier studies resulted from their use of metrics that poorly capture changes in the Hadley circulation, or from the use of reanalyses that contained spurious trends. Accounting for these issues reduces the range of observed expansion rates to 0.25°–0.5° latitude decade‒1—within the range from model simulations. Models indicate that most of the recent Northern Hemisphere tropical widening is consistent with natural variability, whereas increasing greenhouse gases and decreasing stratospheric ozone likely played an important role in Southern Hemisphere widening. Whatever the cause or rate of expansion, understanding the regional impacts of tropical widening requires additional work, as different forcings can produce different regional patterns of widening.

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Xin-Zhong Liang, Min Xu, Xing Yuan, Tiejun Ling, Hyun I. Choi, Feng Zhang, Ligang Chen, Shuyan Liu, Shenjian Su, Fengxue Qiao, Yuxiang He, Julian X. L. Wang, Kenneth E. Kunkel, Wei Gao, Everette Joseph, Vernon Morris, Tsann-Wang Yu, Jimy Dudhia, and John Michalakes

The CWRF is developed as a climate extension of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) by incorporating numerous improvements in the representation of physical processes and integration of external (top, surface, lateral) forcings that are crucial to climate scales, including interactions between land, atmosphere, and ocean; convection and microphysics; and cloud, aerosol, and radiation; and system consistency throughout all process modules. This extension inherits all WRF functionalities for numerical weather prediction while enhancing the capability for climate modeling. As such, CWRF can be applied seamlessly to weather forecast and climate prediction. The CWRF is built with a comprehensive ensemble of alternative parameterization schemes for each of the key physical processes, including surface (land, ocean), planetary boundary layer, cumulus (deep, shallow), microphysics, cloud, aerosol, and radiation, and their interactions. This facilitates the use of an optimized physics ensemble approach to improve weather or climate prediction along with a reliable uncertainty estimate. The CWRF also emphasizes the societal service capability to provide impactrelevant information by coupling with detailed models of terrestrial hydrology, coastal ocean, crop growth, air quality, and a recently expanded interactive water quality and ecosystem model.

This study provides a general CWRF description and basic skill evaluation based on a continuous integration for the period 1979– 2009 as compared with that of WRF, using a 30-km grid spacing over a domain that includes the contiguous United States plus southern Canada and northern Mexico. In addition to advantages of greater application capability, CWRF improves performance in radiation and terrestrial hydrology over WRF and other regional models. Precipitation simulation, however, remains a challenge for all of the tested models.

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Michele M. Rienecker, Max J. Suarez, Ronald Gelaro, Ricardo Todling, Julio Bacmeister, Emily Liu, Michael G. Bosilovich, Siegfried D. Schubert, Lawrence Takacs, Gi-Kong Kim, Stephen Bloom, Junye Chen, Douglas Collins, Austin Conaty, Arlindo da Silva, Wei Gu, Joanna Joiner, Randal D. Koster, Robert Lucchesi, Andrea Molod, Tommy Owens, Steven Pawson, Philip Pegion, Christopher R. Redder, Rolf Reichle, Franklin R. Robertson, Albert G. Ruddick, Meta Sienkiewicz, and Jack Woollen


The Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) was undertaken by NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office with two primary objectives: to place observations from NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites into a climate context and to improve upon the hydrologic cycle represented in earlier generations of reanalyses. Focusing on the satellite era, from 1979 to the present, MERRA has achieved its goals with significant improvements in precipitation and water vapor climatology. Here, a brief overview of the system and some aspects of its performance, including quality assessment diagnostics from innovation and residual statistics, is given.

By comparing MERRA with other updated reanalyses [the interim version of the next ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim) and the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR)], advances made in this new generation of reanalyses, as well as remaining deficiencies, are identified. Although there is little difference between the new reanalyses in many aspects of climate variability, substantial differences remain in poorly constrained quantities such as precipitation and surface fluxes. These differences, due to variations both in the models and in the analysis techniques, are an important measure of the uncertainty in reanalysis products. It is also found that all reanalyses are still quite sensitive to observing system changes. Dealing with this sensitivity remains the most pressing challenge for the next generation of reanalyses.

Production has now caught up to the current period and MERRA is being continued as a near-real-time climate analysis. The output is available online through the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC).

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Suranjana Saha, Shrinivas Moorthi, Hua-Lu Pan, Xingren Wu, Jiande Wang, Sudhir Nadiga, Patrick Tripp, Robert Kistler, John Woollen, David Behringer, Haixia Liu, Diane Stokes, Robert Grumbine, George Gayno, Jun Wang, Yu-Tai Hou, Hui-ya Chuang, Hann-Ming H. Juang, Joe Sela, Mark Iredell, Russ Treadon, Daryl Kleist, Paul Van Delst, Dennis Keyser, John Derber, Michael Ek, Jesse Meng, Helin Wei, Rongqian Yang, Stephen Lord, Huug van den Dool, Arun Kumar, Wanqiu Wang, Craig Long, Muthuvel Chelliah, Yan Xue, Boyin Huang, Jae-Kyung Schemm, Wesley Ebisuzaki, Roger Lin, Pingping Xie, Mingyue Chen, Shuntai Zhou, Wayne Higgins, Cheng-Zhi Zou, Quanhua Liu, Yong Chen, Yong Han, Lidia Cucurull, Richard W. Reynolds, Glenn Rutledge, and Mitch Goldberg

The NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) was completed for the 31-yr period from 1979 to 2009, in January 2010. The CFSR was designed and executed as a global, high-resolution coupled atmosphere–ocean–land surface–sea ice system to provide the best estimate of the state of these coupled domains over this period. The current CFSR will be extended as an operational, real-time product into the future. New features of the CFSR include 1) coupling of the atmosphere and ocean during the generation of the 6-h guess field, 2) an interactive sea ice model, and 3) assimilation of satellite radiances by the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) scheme over the entire period. The CFSR global atmosphere resolution is ~38 km (T382) with 64 levels extending from the surface to 0.26 hPa. The global ocean's latitudinal spacing is 0.25° at the equator, extending to a global 0.5° beyond the tropics, with 40 levels to a depth of 4737 m. The global land surface model has four soil levels and the global sea ice model has three layers. The CFSR atmospheric model has observed variations in carbon dioxide (CO2) over the 1979–2009 period, together with changes in aerosols and other trace gases and solar variations. Most available in situ and satellite observations were included in the CFSR. Satellite observations were used in radiance form, rather than retrieved values, and were bias corrected with “spin up” runs at full resolution, taking into account variable CO2 concentrations. This procedure enabled the smooth transitions of the climate record resulting from evolutionary changes in the satellite observing system.

CFSR atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface output products are available at an hourly time resolution and a horizontal resolution of 0.5° latitude × 0.5° longitude. The CFSR data will be distributed by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and NCAR. This reanalysis will serve many purposes, including providing the basis for most of the NCEP Climate Prediction Center's operational climate products by defining the mean states of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and sea ice over the next 30-yr climate normal (1981–2010); providing initial conditions for historical forecasts that are required to calibrate operational NCEP climate forecasts (from week 2 to 9 months); and providing estimates and diagnoses of the Earth's climate state over the satellite data period for community climate research.

Preliminary analysis of the CFSR output indicates a product that is far superior in most respects to the reanalysis of the mid-1990s. The previous NCEP–NCAR reanalyses have been among the most used NCEP products in history; there is every reason to believe the CFSR will supersede these older products both in scope and quality, because it is higher in time and space resolution, covers the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land, and was executed in a coupled mode with a more modern data assimilation system and forecast model.

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