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Joseph Park, Robert Heitsenrether, and William Sweet

Abstract

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is transitioning the primary water level sensor at the majority of tide stations in the National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) from an acoustic ranging system to a microwave radar system. Field comparison of the acoustic and microwave systems finds statistically equivalent performance when temperature gradients between the acoustic sensor and water surface are small and when significant wave height is less than roughly 0.5 m. When significant wave height is greater than approximately 0.5–1 m, the acoustic system consistently reports lower water levels. An analysis of 2 months of acoustic and microwave water level data at Duck, North Carolina, finds that the majority of differences between the two sensors can be attributed to systemic errors in the acoustic system and that the microwave system captures water level variability with higher fidelity than the acoustic system. NWLON real-time data products include the water level standard deviation, a statistic that can serve as a proxy for significant wave height. This study identifies 29 coastal water level stations that are candidates for monitoring wave height based on water level standard deviation, potentially adding a significant source of data for the sparsely sampled coastal wave fields around the United States, and finds that the microwave sensor is better suited than the acoustic system for wave height estimates.

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Sang-Hun Park, Joseph B. Klemp, and William C. Skamarock

Abstract

Idealized normal-mode baroclinic wave simulations are conducted to examine the impact of continuous mesh refinement compared with stepwise changes in resolution using nested grids. The nested-grid results are produced using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-ARW) Model, hereafter ARW, and the continuous refinement results are produced using the atmospheric component of the Model for Prediction Across Scales-Atmosphere (MPAS-A). For the nested domain simulations with the ARW, variants of both one-way and two-way nesting techniques are examined. Significant reflection and distortion of waves are evident in results using one-way nesting, with the error increasing with decreasing boundary-update frequency. With continuous updating of the boundary conditions in one-way and two-way nesting, wave distortion is still evident near the lateral boundaries but the distortion is much less than with infrequent boundary updates. The conformal Voronoi meshes in MPAS provide a much smoother transition between mesh resolutions. Variable-resolution mesh MPAS-A simulations, using different transition zones between high- and low-resolution regions, are compared with the results from the ARW simulations. In the MPAS-A simulations, there is no significant reflection of gravity waves, suggesting that continuous mesh refinement can eliminate distortions that tend to occur along the boundaries of nested meshes.

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Sang-Hun Park, Joseph B. Klemp, and Jung-Hoon Kim

Abstract

Although a terrain-following vertical coordinate is well suited for the application of surface boundary conditions, it is well known that the influences of the terrain on the coordinate surfaces can contribute to increase numerical errors, particularly over steep topography. To reduce these errors, a hybrid sigma–pressure coordinate is formulated in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, and its effects are illustrated for both an idealized test case and a real-data forecast for upper-level turbulence. The idealized test case confirms that with the basic sigma coordinate, significant upper-level disturbances can be produced due to numerical errors that arise as the advection of strong horizontal flow is computed along coordinate surfaces that are perturbed by smaller-scale terrain influences. With the hybrid coordinate, this artificial noise is largely eliminated as the mid- and upper-level coordinate surfaces correspond much more closely to constant pressure surfaces. In real-data simulations for upper-level turbulence forecasting, the WRF Model using the basic sigma coordinate tends to overpredict the strength of upper-air turbulence over mountainous regions because of numerical errors arising as a strong upper-level jet is advected along irregular coordinate surfaces. With the hybrid coordinate, these errors are reduced, resulting in an improved forecast of upper-level turbulence. Analysis of kinetic energy spectra for these simulations confirms that artificial amplitudes in the smaller scales at upper levels that arise with the basic sigma coordinate are effectively removed when the hybrid coordinate is used.

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William V. Sweet, Melisa Menendez, Ayesha Genz, Jayantha Obeysekera, Joseph Park, and John J. Marra
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Sang-Hun Park, William C. Skamarock, Joseph B. Klemp, Laura D. Fowler, and Michael G. Duda

Abstract

The hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic atmospheric solvers within the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) are tested using an extension of Jablonowski and Williamson baroclinic wave test case that includes moisture. This study uses the dry test case to verify the correctness of the solver formulation and coding by comparing results from the two different MPAS solvers and from the global version of the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting Model (ARW-WRF). A normal mode initialization is used in the Jablonowski and Williamson test, and the most unstable mode is found to be wavenumber 9. The three solvers produce very similar normal mode structures and nonlinear baroclinic wave evolutions. Solutions produced using MPAS variable-resolution meshes are quite similar to the results from the quasi-uniform mesh with equivalent resolution. Importantly, the small-scale flow features are better resolved in the fine-resolution region and there is no apparent wave distortion in the fine-to-coarse mesh transition region, thus demonstrating the potential value of MPAS for multiscale flow simulation.

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William C. Skamarock, Sang-Hun Park, Joseph B. Klemp, and Chris Snyder

Abstract

Kinetic energy (KE) spectra derived from global high-resolution atmospheric simulations from the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) are presented. The simulations are produced using quasi-uniform global Voronoi horizontal meshes with 3-, 7.5-, and 15-km mean cell spacings. KE spectra from the MPAS simulations compare well with observations and other simulations in the literature and possess the canonical KE spectra structure including a very-well-resolved shallow-sloped mesoscale region in the 3-km simulation. There is a peak in the vertical velocity variance at the model filter scale for all simulations, indicating the underresolved nature of updrafts even with the 3-km mesh. The KE spectra reveal that the MPAS configuration produces an effective model resolution (filter scale) of approximately 6Δx. Comparison with other published model KE spectra highlight model filtering issues, specifically insufficient filtering that can lead to spectral blocking and the production of erroneous shallow-sloped mesoscale tails in the KE spectra. The mesoscale regions in the MPAS KE spectra are produced without use of kinetic energy backscatter, in contrast to other results reported in the literature. No substantive difference is found in KE spectra computed on constant height or constant pressure surfaces. Stratified turbulence is not resolved with the vertical resolution used in this study; hence, the results do not support recent conjecture that stratified turbulence explains the mesoscale portion of the KE spectrum.

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William C. Skamarock, Chris Snyder, Joseph B. Klemp, and Sang-Hun Park

Abstract

The role of vertical mesh spacing in the convergence of full-physics global atmospheric model solutions is examined for synoptic, mesoscale, and convective-scale horizontal resolutions. Using the MPAS-Atmosphere model, convergence is evaluated for three solution metrics: the horizontal kinetic energy spectrum, the Richardson number probability density function, and resolved flow features. All three metrics exhibit convergence in the free atmosphere for a 15-km horizontal mesh when the vertical grid spacing is less than or equal to 200 m. Nonconvergence is accompanied by noise, spurious structures, reduced levels of mesoscale kinetic energy, and reduced Richardson number peak frequencies. Coarser horizontal mesh solutions converge in a similar manner but contain much less noise than the 15-km solutions for coarse vertical resolution. For convective-scale resolution simulations with 3-km cell spacing on a variable-resolution mesh, solution convergence is almost attained with a vertical mesh spacing of 200 m. The boundary layer scheme is the dominant source of vertical filtering in the free atmosphere. Although the increased vertical mixing at coarser vertical mesh spacing depresses the kinetic energy spectra and Richardson number convergence, it does not produce sufficient dissipation to effectively halt scale collapse. These results confirm and extend the results from a number of previous studies, and further emphasize the sensitivity of the energetics to the vertical mixing formulations in the model.

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Jung-Hoon Kim, Robert D. Sharman, Stanley G. Benjamin, John M. Brown, Sang-Hun Park, and Joseph B. Klemp

Abstract

Spurious mountain-wave features have been reported as false alarms of light-or-stronger numerical weather prediction (NWP)-based cruise level turbulence forecasts especially over the western mountainous region of North America. To reduce this problem, a hybrid sigma–pressure vertical coordinate system was implemented in NOAA’s operational Rapid Refresh model, version 4 (RAPv4), which has been running in parallel with the conventional terrain-following coordinate system of RAP version 3 (RAPv3). Direct comparison of vertical velocity |w| fields from the RAPv4 and RAPv3 models shows that the new RAPv4 model significantly reduces small-scale spurious vertical velocities induced by the conventional terrain-following coordinate system in the RAPv3. For aircraft-scale turbulence forecasts, |w| and |w|/Richardson number (|w|/Ri) derived from both the RAPv4 and RAPv3 models are converted into energy dissipation rate (EDR) estimates. Then, those EDR-scaled indices are evaluated using more than 1.2 million in situ EDR turbulence reports from commercial aircraft for 4 months (September–December 2017). Scores of the area under receiver operating characteristic curves for the |w|- and |w|/Ri-based EDR forecasts from the RAPv4 are 0.69 and 0.83, which is statistically significantly improved over the RAPv3 of 0.63 and 0.77, respectively. The new RAPv4 became operational on 12 July 2018 and provides better guidance for operational turbulence forecasting over North America.

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William C. Skamarock, Joseph B. Klemp, Michael G. Duda, Laura D. Fowler, Sang-Hun Park, and Todd D. Ringler

Abstract

The formulation of a fully compressible nonhydrostatic atmospheric model called the Model for Prediction Across Scales–Atmosphere (MPAS-A) is described. The solver is discretized using centroidal Voronoi meshes and a C-grid staggering of the prognostic variables, and it incorporates a split-explicit time-integration technique used in many existing nonhydrostatic meso- and cloud-scale models. MPAS can be applied to the globe, over limited areas of the globe, and on Cartesian planes. The Voronoi meshes are unstructured grids that permit variable horizontal resolution. These meshes allow for applications beyond uniform-resolution NWP and climate prediction, in particular allowing embedded high-resolution regions to be used for regional NWP and regional climate applications. The rationales for aspects of this formulation are discussed, and results from tests for nonhydrostatic flows on Cartesian planes and for large-scale flow on the sphere are presented. The results indicate that the solver is as accurate as existing nonhydrostatic solvers for nonhydrostatic-scale flows, and has accuracy comparable to existing global models using icosahedral (hexagonal) meshes for large-scale flows in idealized tests. Preliminary full-physics forecast results indicate that the solver formulation is robust and that the variable-resolution-mesh solutions are well resolved and exhibit no obvious problems in the mesh-transition zones.

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