14B.2 Evaluating the performance of single and double moment microphysics schemes during a synoptic-scale snowfall event

Thursday, 27 January 2011: 1:45 PM
615-617 (Washington State Convention Center)
Andrew L. Molthan, NASA/MSFC, Huntsville, AL
Manuscript (2.8 MB)

Increases in computing resources have allowed for the utilization of high-resolution weather forecast models capable of resolving cloud microphysical and precipitation processes among varying numbers of hydrometeor categories. Several microphysics schemes are currently available within the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, ranging from single-moment predictions of precipitation content to double-moment predictions that include a prediction of particle number concentrations. Each scheme incorporates several assumptions related to the size distribution, shape, and fall speed relationships of ice crystals in order to simulate cold-cloud processes and resulting precipitation. Field campaign data offer a means of evaluating the assumptions present within each scheme.

The Canadian CloudSat/CALIPSO Validation Project (C3VP) represented collaboration among the CloudSat, CALIPSO, and NASA Global Precipitation Measurement mission communities, to observe cold season precipitation processes relevant to forecast model evaluation and the eventual development of satellite retrievals of cloud properties and precipitation rates. During the C3VP campaign, widespread snowfall occurred on 22 January 2007, sampled by aircraft and surface instrumentation that provided particle size distributions, ice water content, and fall speed estimations along with traditional surface measurements of temperature and precipitation. In this study, four single-moment and two double-moment microphysics schemes were utilized to generate hypothetical WRF forecasts of the event, with C3VP data used in evaluation of their varying assumptions. Schemes that incorporate flexibility in size distribution parameters and density assumptions are shown to be preferable to fixed constants, and that a double-moment representation of the snow category may be beneficial when representing the effects of aggregation. These results may guide forecast centers in optimal configurations of their forecast models for winter weather and identify best practices present within these various schemes.

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