24th Conference on Hydrology


A modeling and verification study of summer precipitation systems using NASA surface initialization datasets

Jonathan L. Case, ENSCO, Inc., Huntsville, AL; and S. V. Kumar, J. Srikishen, and G. J. Jedlovec

One of the most challenging weather forecast problems in the southeastern U.S. is daily summertime pulse-type convection. During the summer, atmospheric flow and forcing are generally weak in this region; thus, convection typically initiates in response to local forcing along sea/lake breezes, and other discontinuities often related to horizontal gradients in surface heating rates. Numerical simulations of pulse convection usually have low skill, even in local predictions at high resolution, due to the inherent chaotic nature of these precipitation systems. Forecast errors can arise from assumptions within parameterization schemes, model resolution limitations, and uncertainties in both the initial state of the atmosphere and land surface variables such as soil moisture and temperature. For this study, it is hypothesized that high-resolution, consistent representations of surface properties such as soil moisture, soil temperature, and sea surface temperature (SST) are necessary to better simulate the interactions between the surface and atmosphere, and ultimately improve predictions of summertime pulse convection.

This paper describes a sensitivity experiment using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Interpolated land and ocean surface fields from a large-scale model are replaced with high-resolution datasets provided by unique NASA assets in an experimental simulation: the Land Information System (LIS) and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) SSTs. The LIS is run in an offline mode for several years at the same grid resolution as the WRF model to provide compatible land surface initial conditions in an equilibrium state. The MODIS SSTs provide detailed analyses of SSTs over the oceans and large lakes compared to current operational products. The WRF model runs initialized with the LIS+MODIS datasets result in a reduction in the over-prediction of rainfall areas; however, the skill is almost equally as low in both experiments using traditional verification methodologies. Output from object-based verification within NCAR's Meteorological Evaluation Tools reveals that the WRF runs initialized with LIS+MODIS data consistently generated precipitation objects that better matched observed precipitation objects, especially at higher precipitation intensities. The LIS+MODIS runs produced on average a 4% increase in matched precipitation areas and a simultaneous 4% decrease in unmatched areas during three months of daily simulations.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (908K)

Recorded presentation

Session 3B, Advances in Hydrological Remote-Sensing and Data Assimilation Part II
Tuesday, 19 January 2010, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM, B304

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