Climate Dynamics

, Volume 43, Issue 9–10, pp 2349–2375 | Cite as

The atmospheric component of the Mediterranean Sea water budget in a WRF multi-physics ensemble and observations

  • Alejandro Di LucaEmail author
  • Emmanouil Flaounas
  • Philippe Drobinski
  • Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier


The use of high resolution atmosphere–ocean coupled regional climate models to study possible future climate changes in the Mediterranean Sea requires an accurate simulation of the atmospheric component of the water budget (i.e., evaporation, precipitation and runoff). A specific configuration of the version 3.1 of the weather research and forecasting (WRF) regional climate model was shown to systematically overestimate the Mediterranean Sea water budget mainly due to an excess of evaporation (~1,450 mm yr−1) compared with observed estimations (~1,150 mm yr−1). In this article, a 70-member multi-physics ensemble is used to try to understand the relative importance of various sub-grid scale processes in the Mediterranean Sea water budget and to evaluate its representation by comparing simulated results with observed-based estimates. The physics ensemble was constructed by performing 70 1-year long simulations using version 3.3 of the WRF model by combining six cumulus, four surface/planetary boundary layer and three radiation schemes. Results show that evaporation variability across the multi-physics ensemble (∼10 % of the mean evaporation) is dominated by the choice of the surface layer scheme that explains more than ∼70 % of the total variance and that the overestimation of evaporation in WRF simulations is generally related with an overestimation of surface exchange coefficients due to too large values of the surface roughness parameter and/or the simulation of too unstable surface conditions. Although the influence of radiation schemes on evaporation variability is small (∼13 % of the total variance), radiation schemes strongly influence exchange coefficients and vertical humidity gradients near the surface due to modifications of temperature lapse rates. The precipitation variability across the physics ensemble (∼35 % of the mean precipitation) is dominated by the choice of both cumulus (∼55 % of the total variance) and planetary boundary layer (∼32 % of the total variance) schemes with a strong regional dependence. Most members of the ensemble underestimate total precipitation amounts with biases as large as 250 mm yr−1 over the whole Mediterranean Sea compared with ERA Interim reanalysis mainly due to an underestimation of the number of wet days. The larger number of dry days in simulations is associated with a deficit in the activation of cumulus schemes. Both radiation and planetary boundary layer schemes influence precipitation through modifications on the available water vapor in the boundary layer generally tied with changes in evaporation.


Regional climate model Evaporation Precipitation Parameterizations Cumulus Planetary boundary layer 



Version 2 of the asymmetrical convective model scheme


Betts–Miller–Janjic scheme




Cumulus scheme


ERA Interim reanalysis


Grell 3D ensemble scheme


Hydrological cycle in the Mediterranean experiment


Kain–Fritsch scheme


Mediterranean contribution to the Coordinated Regional climate Downscaling Experiment


Fifth-generation of the Mesoscale Model


Multi-physics ensemble


Mediterranean Sea water budget


Modified Tiedtke scheme


Mellor–Yamada–Janjic scheme


Mellor–Yamada–Nakanishi–Niino scheme


Nucleus for European modelling of the ocean


New Simplified Arakawa–Schubert


Planetary boundary layer scheme


Radiation scheme


Regional climate model


Rapid radiative transfer Model scheme


Rapid radiative transfer model for application to GCMs scheme


Simplified Arakawa–Schubert scheme


Surface layer scheme


Surface and planetary boundary layer scheme


Sea surface temperature


Weather research and forecasting


Yonsey University scheme



The research reported here was supported by the École Polytechnique, by the French National Research Agency (ANR) project REMEMBER (contract ANR-12-SENV-001) and by the IPSL group for regional climate and environmental studies. EF was supported by the IMPACT2C program (funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, FP7/2007–2013 under the grant agreement 282746). The authors are indebted to K. Beranger and T. Arsouze for their useful collaboration. The authors also thank K. Ramage, J. Lenseigne and all the Climserv team from IPSL for maintaining a user-friendly local computing facility and stored the various datasets used in this study. This work is a contribution to the HyMeX program through INSU-MISTRALS support and the MED-CORDEX. This research The authors wish to thank the project groups at the Hamburg Ocean Atmosphere Parameters and Fluxes from Satellite Data Center, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the WHOI OAFlux project funded by the NOAA Climate Observations and Monitoring (COM) program and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory PO.DAAC for making their datasets readily available for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro Di Luca
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Emmanouil Flaounas
    • 1
  • Philippe Drobinski
    • 1
  • Cindy Lebeaupin Brossier
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Institute Pierre Simon LaplaceCNRS and École PolytechniquePalaiseau CedexFrance
  2. 2.Climate Change Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.CNRM-GAME, UMR3589Météo-France and CNRSToulouseFrance

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