Earth Systems and Environment

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 367–379 | Cite as

Effect of 1-km Subgrid Land-Surface Heterogeneity on the Multi-year Simulation of RCM-Modelled Surface Climate Over the Region of Complex Topography

  • Imran NadeemEmail author
  • Herbert Formayer
  • Asma Yaqub
Original Article


Effects of parameterization of subgrid-scale topography and land cover scheme (SubBATS) at 1-km resolution were investigated over the Alpine region using a regional climate model. Two multi-year simulations were carried out with the Regional Climate Model of International Centre for Theoretical Physics. The control simulation was carried out at 10-km horizontal resolution using standard land-surface model; while for the SubBATS simulation, the land-surface model was employed at much higher resolution (1 km) to investigate the effect of land-surface heterogeneity on the Alpine climate. In SubBATS, near-surface atmospheric state variables from coarse (10-km) atmospheric model were disaggregated to 1 km before passing to high-resolution land surface scheme. Comparison of these two multi-year simulation was done for the Great Alpine Region. The analysis shows the added value imparted by very high-resolution SubBATS in simulating hydrology processes in the complex terrain. The direct effects of the scheme are evident on height-dependent variables; temperature and snow pack. The better representation of topographic height in sub-scale scheme leads to more refined temperature field which subsequently results in more realistic representation of snow cover and snow melt. At 1-km resolution, the influence of resolved mountain peaks and valleys results in decrease of snow-covered area. The subgrid scheme not only improves the overall simulation by feedback process but also provides high-resolution meteorological fields that can be used for adaptation and impact studies. Therefore, more accurate representation of land-surface heterogeneity in sub-grid approach improves the temperature and snow fields over the complex terrain and can be useful for coupling with impact models, although further improvements are desirable.


Regional climate models Subgrid heterogeneity SubBATS scheme Subgrid-scale topography and landuse 



This study presented in this paper was partially funded by EC project CECILIA. The scholarship provided by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to first author also helped to complete this study. We acknowledge the E-OBS dataset from the EU-FP6 project UERRA ( and the data providers in the ECA&D project ( Our special thanks to ECMWF for providing ERA-Interim reanalysis data. We are also very thankful to Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich for providing observational precipitation dataset for this study.


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Copyright information

© King Abdulaziz University and Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Meteorology and ClimatologyUniversity of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU)ViennaAustria

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