Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 2077–2091

Improvements in WRF simulation skills of southeastern United States summer rainfall: physical parameterization and horizontal resolution


DOI: 10.1007/s00382-013-2031-2

Cite this article as:
Li, L., Li, W. & Jin, J. Clim Dyn (2014) 43: 2077. doi:10.1007/s00382-013-2031-2


Realistic regional climate simulations are important in understanding the mechanisms of summer rainfall in the southeastern United States (SE US) and in making seasonal predictions. In this study, skills of SE US summer rainfall simulation at a 15-km resolution are evaluated using the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model driven by climate forecast system reanalysis data. Influences of parameterization schemes and model resolution on the rainfall are investigated. It is shown that the WRF simulations for SE US summer rainfall are most sensitive to cumulus schemes, moderately sensitive to planetary boundary layer schemes, and less sensitive to microphysics schemes. Among five WRF cumulus schemes analyzed in this study, the Zhang–McFarlane scheme outperforms the other four. Further analysis suggests that the superior performance of the Zhang–McFarlane scheme is attributable primarily to its capability of representing rainfall-triggering processes over the SE US, especially the positive relationship between convective available potential energy and rainfall. In addition, simulated rainfall using the Zhang–McFarlane scheme at the 15-km resolution is compared with that at a 3-km convection-permitting resolution without cumulus scheme to test whether the increased horizontal resolution can further improve the SE US rainfall simulation. Results indicate that the simulations at the 3-km resolution do not show obvious advantages over those at the 15-km resolution with the Zhang–McFarlane scheme. In conclusion, our study suggests that in order to obtain a satisfactory simulation of SE US summer rainfall, choosing a cumulus scheme that can realistically represent the convective rainfall triggering mechanism may be more effective than solely increasing model resolution.


Southeastern United StatesSummer rainfallWeather research and forecasting (WRF) modelCumulus parameterization schemeHorizontal resolution

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth SciencesDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Watershed Sciences and Department of Plants, Soils and ClimateUtah State UniversityLoganUSA