Climate Dynamics

, Volume 38, Issue 3–4, pp 573–593 | Cite as

Modeling the hydroclimatology of the midwestern United States. Part 1: current climate

  • Jonathan M. WinterEmail author
  • Elfatih A. B. Eltahir


An ensemble of six 22-year numerical experiments was conducted to evaluate the ability of Regional Climate Model version 3 (RegCM3) to simulate the energy and water budgets of the midwestern United States. RegCM3 was run using two surface physics schemes: Integrated Biosphere Simulator (IBIS) and Biosphere-Atmosphere Transfer Scheme 1e (BATS1e), and two convective closure assumptions: Fritsch & Chappell (FC80) and Arakawa & Schubert (AS74). Boundary conditions were provided by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction-Department of Energy Reanalysis 2 dataset and the ECHAM5 general circulation model. A companion paper examines the American Midwest under future climate scenarios. Overall, the model that reproduces the observed seasonal cycles of the midwestern United States climate system best is RegCM3 using IBIS and the AS74 convective closure assumption. IBIS simulates shortwave radiation more accurately, while BATS1e simulates longwave radiation more accurately. Summer two-meter air temperature is overestimated by the combination of IBIS and the FC80 convective closure assumption. All models contain a wet bias and overestimate evapotranspiration during the spring. Total runoff, surface runoff, groundwater runoff, and root zone soil moisture are best simulated by RegCM3 using IBIS and the AS74 convective closure assumption. While BATS1e does capture the seasonal cycle of total runoff, gross errors in the partitioning of total runoff between surface runoff and groundwater runoff exist. The seasonal cycle of root zone soil moisture simulated by RegCM3 using IBIS and the AS74 convective closure assumption is dry, but agrees with observations during the summer. The rest of the models underestimate root zone soil moisture.


Hydrology Regional climate modeling Midwestern United States 



We thank the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, the Eltahir group, members of the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory who aided in this research, our reviewers, and our editor. Individuals who made significant contributions to this work include Jeremy Pal and Marc Marcella. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (Award EAR-04500341) and the Martin Family Fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.NASA Goddard Institute for Space StudiesNew YorkUSA

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