Climate Dynamics

, Volume 37, Issue 1–2, pp 343–356 | Cite as

Sensitivity to domain size of mid-latitude summer simulations with a regional climate model

  • Martin Leduc
  • René Laprise
  • Mathieu Moretti-Poisson
  • Jean-Philippe Morin


The issue of Regional Climate Model (RCM) domain size is studied here by using a perfect-model approach, also known as the Big-Brother experiment. It is known that the control exerted by the lateral boundary conditions (LBC) on nested simulations increases when reducing the domain size. The large-scale component of the simulation that is forced by the LBC influences the small-scale features that develop along the large-scale flow. Small-scale transient eddies need space and time to develop sufficiently however, and small domains can impede their development. Our tests performed over eastern North America in summer reveal that the small-scale features are systematically underestimated over the entire domain, even for domain as large as 140 by 140 grid points. This result differs from that obtained in winter where the small scales were mainly underestimated on the west (inflow) side of the domain. This difference is due to the circulation regime over Eastern Canada, which is characterized by weak and variable flow in summer, but strong and westerly flow in winter. For both seasons, the small-scale transient-eddy amplitudes are systematically underestimated at higher levels, but this problem is less severe in summer. Overall the model is more skilful in regenerating the small scales in summer than in winter for comparable domain sizes, which can be related to the weaker summer flow and stronger physical processes occurring in this season.


Regional climate model Domain size Small-scale features Big-Brother Experiment 



This research was done within the Canadian Regional Climate Modelling and Diagnostics (CRCMD) Network, funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS), the Ouranos Consortium for Regional Climatology and Adaptation to Climate Change, and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies (FQRNT). The first author was also supported in part by UQAM’s studentship program Fonds à l’Accessibilité et à la Réussite des Études (FARE). We would like to thank Mr Mourad Labassi for maintaining a user-friendly local computing facility. Thanks are also extended to the Ouranos Climate Simulation Team for their support of the CRCM software.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Leduc
    • 1
  • René Laprise
    • 1
  • Mathieu Moretti-Poisson
    • 1
  • Jean-Philippe Morin
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre ESCER (Étude et Simulation du Climat à l’Échelle Régionale)Université du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada

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