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J. Li, X. Gao, and S. Sorooshian

Abstract

Estimating the water budgets in a small-scale basin is a challenge, especially in the mountainous western United States, where the terrain is complex and observational data in the mountain areas are sparse. This manuscript reports on research that downscaled 5-yr (1999–2004) hydrometeorological fields over the upper Rio Grande basin from a 2.5° NCEP–NCAR reanalysis to a 4-km local scale using a regional climate model [fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5), version 3]. The model can reproduce the terrain-related precipitation distribution—the trend of diurnal, seasonal, and interannual precipitation variability—although poor snow simulation caused it to overestimate precipitation and evapotranspiration in the cold season. The outcomes from the coupled model are also comparable to offline Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) and Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS)/Mosaic land surface simulations that are driven by observed and/or analyzed surface meteorological data.

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