A Nonhydrostatic Version of the Penn State–NCAR Mesoscale Model: Validation Tests and Simulation of an Atlantic Cyclone and Cold Front

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  • 1 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Abstract

A nonhydrostatic extension to the Pennsylvania State University-NCAR Mesoscale Model is presented. This new version employs reference pressure as the basis for a terrain-following vertical coordinate and the fully compressible system of equations. In combination with the existing initialization techniques and physics of the current hydrostatic model, this provides a model capable of real-data simulations on any scale, limited only by data resolution and quality and by computer resources.

The model uses pressure perturbation and temperature as prognostic variables as well as a B-grid staggering in contrast to most current nonhydrostatic models. The compressible equations are solved with a split-time- step approach where sound waves are treated semi-implicitly on the shorter step. Numerical techniques and finite differencing are described.

Two-dimensional tests of flow over a bell-shaped hill on a range of scales were carded out with the hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic models to contrast the two and to verify the dynamics of the new version.

Several three-dimensional real-data simulations show the potential use of grid-nesting applications whereby the model is initialized from a coarser hydrostatic or nonhydrostatic model output by interpolation to a smaller grid area of typically between two and four times finer resolution. This approach is illustrated by a simulation of a cold front within a developing midlatitude cyclone, and a comparison of the front to observations of similar features.

The cold-frontal boundary was sharply defined at low levels and consisted of narrow linear updraft cores. At 2–4-km altitude this structure gave way to a more diffuse boundary with apparent mixing. Mechanisms are presented to explain these features in terms of inertial and shearing instability. Convection embedded in the frontal band formed a prefrontal line at later stages.

Finally, sensitivity studies showed that the frontal band owed its narrowness to the concentrating effect of latent heating. The frontal ascending branch was supplied by a strong easterly ageostrophic flow in the warm sector.

Abstract

A nonhydrostatic extension to the Pennsylvania State University-NCAR Mesoscale Model is presented. This new version employs reference pressure as the basis for a terrain-following vertical coordinate and the fully compressible system of equations. In combination with the existing initialization techniques and physics of the current hydrostatic model, this provides a model capable of real-data simulations on any scale, limited only by data resolution and quality and by computer resources.

The model uses pressure perturbation and temperature as prognostic variables as well as a B-grid staggering in contrast to most current nonhydrostatic models. The compressible equations are solved with a split-time- step approach where sound waves are treated semi-implicitly on the shorter step. Numerical techniques and finite differencing are described.

Two-dimensional tests of flow over a bell-shaped hill on a range of scales were carded out with the hydrostatic and nonhydrostatic models to contrast the two and to verify the dynamics of the new version.

Several three-dimensional real-data simulations show the potential use of grid-nesting applications whereby the model is initialized from a coarser hydrostatic or nonhydrostatic model output by interpolation to a smaller grid area of typically between two and four times finer resolution. This approach is illustrated by a simulation of a cold front within a developing midlatitude cyclone, and a comparison of the front to observations of similar features.

The cold-frontal boundary was sharply defined at low levels and consisted of narrow linear updraft cores. At 2–4-km altitude this structure gave way to a more diffuse boundary with apparent mixing. Mechanisms are presented to explain these features in terms of inertial and shearing instability. Convection embedded in the frontal band formed a prefrontal line at later stages.

Finally, sensitivity studies showed that the frontal band owed its narrowness to the concentrating effect of latent heating. The frontal ascending branch was supplied by a strong easterly ageostrophic flow in the warm sector.

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