Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 163, Issue 1, pp 69–89 | Cite as

Comparison of Measured and Numerically Simulated Turbulence Statistics in a Convective Boundary Layer Over Complex Terrain

  • Raj K. RaiEmail author
  • Larry K. Berg
  • Branko Kosović
  • Jeffrey D. Mirocha
  • Mikhail S. Pekour
  • William J. Shaw
Research Article


The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model can be used to simulate atmospheric processes ranging from quasi-global to tens of m in scale. Here we employ large-eddy simulation (LES) using the WRF model, with the LES-domain nested within a mesoscale WRF model domain with grid spacing decreasing from 12.15 km (mesoscale) to 0.03 km (LES). We simulate real-world conditions in the convective planetary boundary layer over an area of complex terrain. The WRF-LES model results are evaluated against observations collected during the US Department of Energy-supported Columbia Basin Wind Energy Study. Comparison of the first- and second-order moments, turbulence spectrum, and probability density function of wind speed shows good agreement between the simulations and observations. One key result is to demonstrate that a systematic methodology needs to be applied to select the grid spacing and refinement ratio used between domains, to avoid having a grid resolution that falls in the grey zone and to minimize artefacts in the WRF-LES model solutions. Furthermore, the WRF-LES model variables show large variability in space and time caused by the complex topography in the LES domain. Analyses of WRF-LES model results show that the flow structures, such as roll vortices and convective cells, vary depending on both the location and time of day as well as the distance from the inflow boundaries.


Complex terrain Convective boundary layer Multiple nesting Turbulent scales Weather Research and Forecasting–large-eddy simulation model 



This research was supported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Wind and Water Power Program, and by the Office of Science’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is operated for the DOE by Battelle Memorial Institute under Contract DE-AC05-76RLO1830. A portion of the research was performed using PNNL Institutional Computing at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Supplementary material

10546_2016_217_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (182 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 182 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raj K. Rai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Larry K. Berg
    • 1
  • Branko Kosović
    • 2
  • Jeffrey D. Mirocha
    • 3
  • Mikhail S. Pekour
    • 1
  • William J. Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)RichlandUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)BoulderUSA
  3. 3.Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)LivermoreUSA

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