Dynamical impact of parameterized turbulent orographic form drag on the simulation of winter precipitation over the western Tibetan Plateau

  • Xu Zhou
  • Kun YangEmail author
  • Anton Beljaars
  • Huidong Li
  • Changgui Lin
  • Bo Huang
  • Yan Wang


Sub-grid orographic drag directly acts on wind and impacts the regional water cycle through control of atmospheric water vapor (AWV) transport. The effect of turbulent orographic form drag (TOFD) on wind and precipitation is investigated in this study using the WRF model for a winter month over the western Tibetan Plateau (TP), where solid precipitation supplies large amounts of water resources. The diurnal cycle of wind components and atmospheric circulation simulated with TOFD are consistent with observations and ERA-Interim data, whereas stronger westerlies exist in the simulation without the TOFD scheme. The latter results in more zonal AWV transport from the west and more precipitation over the western TP and surroundings. The implementation of the TOFD scheme leads to reduced biases, when evaluated with two observation-based precipitation products. It is therefore concluded that this scheme has a clear dynamical control on the regional atmospheric water recharge and thus the parameterization of the small-scale orographic drag in the model helps to improve the prediction of wintertime precipitation in the western TP region.


Turbulent orographic form drag Wind Precipitation Tibetan Plateau WRF 



The simulations were performed at the HPCC super-computer at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research. The station data was provided by National Meteorological Information Center, China Meteorological Administration. The ERA-Interim reanalysis data was downloaded from We are grateful to the China Meteorological Administration and ECMWF for offering the necessary data.


This work was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant no. 2018YFA0605400), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant nos. 41705084, 91537210), the Key Frontier Project of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant no. QYZDY-SSW-DQC011-03), and the National Key Basic Research Program of China (Grant no. 2015CB953703).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interests for any author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xu Zhou
    • 1
  • Kun Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Anton Beljaars
    • 4
  • Huidong Li
    • 5
  • Changgui Lin
    • 6
  • Bo Huang
    • 7
  • Yan Wang
    • 2
  1. 1.TEL and CETES, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Department of Earth System ScienceTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)ReadingUK
  5. 5.Institute of MeteorologyFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Regional Climate Group, Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  7. 7.Industrial Ecology Programme, Department of Energy and Process EngineeringNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

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