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Robert S. Arthur

The adequacy of existing forecasting techniques is demonstrated for a situation involving extreme wave conditions on the northern shores of the Hawaiian Islands. Computations of wave characteristics as made from Sverdrup and Munk's revised relationships show that this unusually high swell could be forecast more than 24 hours in advance. Travel time is computed on the basis of the group velocity at the end of the decay distance. The situation affords a particularly good check on computed travel time since the time of maximum wave height is observed at both the Hawaiian and Palmyra Islands.

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Robert S. Arthur, Katherine A. Lundquist, and Joseph B. Olson

Abstract

The terrain-following vertical coordinate system used by many atmospheric models, including the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, is prone to errors in regions of complex terrain. These errors stem, in part, from the calculation of horizontal gradients within the diffusion term of the momentum or scalar evolution equations. In WRF, such gradients can be calculated along coordinate surfaces, or using metric terms that help account for grid skewness. However, neither of these options ensures a truly horizontal gradient calculation, especially if a grid cell is skewed enough that the heights of the neighboring grid points used in the calculation fall outside the vertical range of the cell. In this work, an improved scheme that uses Taylor series approximations to vertically interpolate variables to the level necessary for a truly horizontal gradient calculation is implemented in WRF for the diffusion of potential temperature. The scheme is validated using an atmosphere-at-rest configuration, in which spurious flows develop only as a result of numerical errors and can thus be used as a proxy for model performance. Following validation, the method is applied to the simulation of cold-air pools (CAPs), which occur in regions of complex terrain and are characterized by strong near-surface temperature gradients. Using the truly horizontal scheme, idealized simulations demonstrate reduced numerical mixing in a quiescent CAP, and a realistic case study in the Columbia River basin shows a reduction in positive wind speed bias by up to roughly 20% compared to observations from the Second Wind Forecast Improvement Project.

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Robert S. Arthur, Jeffrey D. Mirocha, Katherine A. Lundquist, and Robert L. Street

Abstract

A canopy model framework is implemented in the Weather Research and Forecasting Model to improve the accuracy of large-eddy simulations (LES) of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). The model includes two options that depend on the scale of surface roughness elements. A resolved canopy model, typically used to model flow through vegetation canopies, is employed when roughness elements are resolved by the vertical LES grid. In the case of unresolved roughness, a modified “pseudocanopy model” is developed to distribute drag over a shallow layer above the surface. Both canopy model options are validated against idealized test cases in neutral stability conditions and are shown to improve surface layer velocity profiles relative to simulations employing Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST), which is commonly used as a surface boundary condition in ABL models. Use of the canopy model framework also leads to increased levels of resolved turbulence kinetic energy and turbulent stresses. Because LES of the ABL has a well-known difficulty recovering the expected logarithmic velocity profile (log law) in the surface layer, particular focus is placed on using the pseudocanopy model to alleviate this issue over a range of model configurations. Tests with varying surface roughness values, LES closures, and grid aspect ratios confirm that the pseudocanopy model generally improves log-law agreement relative to simulations that employ a standard MOST boundary condition. The canopy model framework thus represents a low-cost, easy-to-implement method for improving LES of the ABL.

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Robert S. Arthur, Katherine A. Lundquist, David J. Wiersema, Jingyi Bao, and Fotini K. Chow

Abstract

The terrain-following coordinate system used by many atmospheric models can cause numerical instabilities due to discretization errors as resolved terrain slopes increase and the grid becomes highly skewed. The immersed boundary (IB) method, which does not require the grid to conform to the terrain, has been shown to alleviate these errors, and has been used successfully for high-resolution atmospheric simulations over steep terrain, including vertical building surfaces. Since many previous applications of IB methods to atmospheric models have used very fine grid resolution (5 m or less), the present study seeks to evaluate IB method performance over a range of grid resolutions and aspect ratios. Two classes of IB algorithms, velocity reconstruction and shear stress reconstruction, are tested within the common framework of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Performance is evaluated in two test cases, one with flat terrain and the other with the topography of Askervein Hill, both under neutrally stratified conditions. WRF-IB results are compared to similarity theory, observations, and native WRF results. Despite sensitivity to the location at which the IB intersects the model grid, the velocity reconstruction IB method shows consistent performance when used with a hybrid RANS/LES surface scheme. The shear stress reconstruction IB method is not sensitive to the grid intersection, but is less consistent and near-surface velocity errors can occur at coarse resolutions. This study represents an initial investigation of IB method variability across grid resolutions in WRF. Future work will focus on improving IB method performance at intermediate to coarse resolutions.

Open access
Robert S. Arthur, Katherine A. Lundquist, Jeffrey D. Mirocha, and Fotini K. Chow

Abstract

Topographic effects on radiation, including both topographic shading and slope effects, are included in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, and here they are made compatible with the immersed boundary method (IBM). IBM is an alternative method for representing complex terrain that reduces numerical errors over sloped terrain, thus extending the range of slopes that can be represented in WRF simulations. The implementation of topographic effects on radiation is validated by comparing land surface fluxes, as well as temperature and velocity fields, between idealized WRF simulations both with and without IBM. Following validation, the topographic shading implementation is tested in a semirealistic simulation of flow over Granite Mountain, Utah, where topographic shading is known to affect downslope flow development in the evening. The horizontal grid spacing is 50 m and the vertical grid spacing is approximately 8–27 m near the surface. Such a case would fail to run in WRF with its native terrain-following coordinates because of large local slope values reaching up to 55°. Good agreement is found between modeled surface energy budget components and observations from the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) program at a location on the east slope of Granite Mountain. In addition, the model captures large spatiotemporal inhomogeneities in the surface sensible heat flux that are important for the development of thermally driven flows over complex terrain.

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Russell S. Vose, Scott Applequist, Mark A. Bourassa, Sara C. Pryor, Rebecca J. Barthelmie, Brian Blanton, Peter D. Bromirski, Harold E. Brooks, Arthur T. DeGaetano, Randall M. Dole, David R. Easterling, Robert E. Jensen, Thomas R. Karl, Richard W. Katz, Katherine Klink, Michael C. Kruk, Kenneth E. Kunkel, Michael C. MacCracken, Thomas C. Peterson, Karsten Shein, Bridget R. Thomas, John E. Walsh, Xiaolan L. Wang, Michael F. Wehner, Donald J. Wuebbles, and Robert S. Young

This scientific assessment examines changes in three climate extremes—extratropical storms, winds, and waves—with an emphasis on U.S. coastal regions during the cold season. There is moderate evidence of an increase in both extratropical storm frequency and intensity during the cold season in the Northern Hemisphere since 1950, with suggestive evidence of geographic shifts resulting in slight upward trends in offshore/coastal regions. There is also suggestive evidence of an increase in extreme winds (at least annually) over parts of the ocean since the early to mid-1980s, but the evidence over the U.S. land surface is inconclusive. Finally, there is moderate evidence of an increase in extreme waves in winter along the Pacific coast since the 1950s, but along other U.S. shorelines any tendencies are of modest magnitude compared with historical variability. The data for extratropical cyclones are considered to be of relatively high quality for trend detection, whereas the data for extreme winds and waves are judged to be of intermediate quality. In terms of physical causes leading to multidecadal changes, the level of understanding for both extratropical storms and extreme winds is considered to be relatively low, while that for extreme waves is judged to be intermediate. Since the ability to measure these changes with some confidence is relatively recent, understanding is expected to improve in the future for a variety of reasons, including increased periods of record and the development of “climate reanalysis” projects.

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Suzanne Van Cooten, Kevin E. Kelleher, Kenneth Howard, Jian Zhang, Jonathan J. Gourley, John S. Kain, Kodi Nemunaitis-Monroe, Zac Flamig, Heather Moser, Ami Arthur, Carrie Langston, Randall Kolar, Yang Hong, Kendra Dresback, Evan Tromble, Humberto Vergara, Richard A Luettich Jr., Brian Blanton, Howard Lander, Ken Galluppi, Jessica Proud Losego, Cheryl Ann Blain, Jack Thigpen, Katie Mosher, Darin Figurskey, Michael Moneypenny, Jonathan Blaes, Jeff Orrock, Rich Bandy, Carin Goodall, John G. W. Kelley, Jason Greenlaw, Micah Wengren, Dave Eslinger, Jeff Payne, Geno Olmi, John Feldt, John Schmidt, Todd Hamill, Robert Bacon, Robert Stickney, and Lundie Spence

The objective of the Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) project is to prototype new hydrometeorologic techniques to address a critical NOAA service gap: routine total water level predictions for tidally influenced watersheds. Since February 2000, the project has focused on developing a coupled modeling system to accurately account for water at all locations in a coastal watershed by exchanging data between atmospheric, hydrologic, and hydrodynamic models. These simulations account for the quantity of water associated with waves, tides, storm surge, rivers, and rainfall, including interactions at the tidal/surge interface.

Within this project, CI-FLOW addresses the following goals: i) apply advanced weather and oceanographic monitoring and prediction techniques to the coastal environment; ii) prototype an automated hydrometeorologic data collection and prediction system; iii) facilitate interdisciplinary and multiorganizational collaborations; and iv) enhance techniques and technologies that improve actionable hydrologic/hydrodynamic information to reduce the impacts of coastal flooding. Results are presented for Hurricane Isabel (2003), Hurricane Earl (2010), and Tropical Storm Nicole (2010) for the Tar–Pamlico and Neuse River basins of North Carolina. This area was chosen, in part, because of the tremendous damage inflicted by Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd (1999). The vision is to transition CI-FLOW research findings and technologies to other U.S. coastal watersheds.

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