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A proxy for high-resolution regional reanalysis for the Southeast United States: assessment of precipitation variability in dynamically downscaled reanalyses

Abstract

We present an analysis of the seasonal, subseasonal, and diurnal variability of rainfall from COAPS Land–Atmosphere Regional Reanalysis for the Southeast at 10-km resolution (CLARReS10). Most of our assessment focuses on the representation of summertime subseasonal and diurnal variability. Summer precipitation in the Southeast United States is a particularly challenging modeling problem because of the variety of regional-scale phenomena, such as sea breeze, thunderstorms and squall lines, which are not adequately resolved in coarse atmospheric reanalyses but contribute significantly to the hydrological budget over the region. We find that the dynamically downscaled reanalyses are in good agreement with station and gridded observations in terms of both the relative seasonal distribution and the diurnal structure of precipitation, although total precipitation amounts tend to be systematically overestimated. The diurnal cycle of summer precipitation in the downscaled reanalyses is in very good agreement with station observations and a clear improvement both over their “parent” reanalyses and over newer-generation reanalyses. The seasonal cycle of precipitation is particularly well simulated in the Florida; this we attribute to the ability of the regional model to provide a more accurate representation of the spatial and temporal structure of finer-scale phenomena such as fronts and sea breezes. Over the northern portion of the domain summer precipitation in the downscaled reanalyses remains, as in the “parent” reanalyses, overestimated. Given the degree of success that dynamical downscaling of reanalyses demonstrates in the simulation of the characteristics of regional precipitation, its favorable comparison to conventional newer-generation reanalyses and its cost-effectiveness, we conclude that for the Southeast United states such downscaling is a viable proxy for high-resolution conventional reanalysis.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Kei Yoshimura for his assistance with the RSM model, Ms. Lauren Moeller for her help with data aggregation and storage, Ms. Kathy Fearon for her editorial comments, Dr. David Sumner and three anonymous reviewers whose helpful comments and thoughtful critique of the manuscript have significantly improved it, and The Florida State University shared High-Performance Computing facility and staff for providing computational resources for this study. The CPC Daily US Unified Precipitation and NCEP-DOE Reanalysis II data were provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their web site at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/; PRISM monthly precipitation was provided by the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University from their website at http://www.prism.oregonstate.edu; ECMWF-ERA40 Reanalysis data were provided by the ECMWF from their data server at http://data.ecmwf.int. MERRA data were made available by the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and the GES DISC. Funding for this project was provided by grants from NOAA, USDA CREES and USGS.

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Correspondence to Lydia Stefanova.

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Stefanova, L., Misra, V., Chan, S. et al. A proxy for high-resolution regional reanalysis for the Southeast United States: assessment of precipitation variability in dynamically downscaled reanalyses. Clim Dyn 38, 2449–2466 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1230-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-011-1230-y

Keywords

  • Southeast US
  • Precipitation
  • Hydroclimate
  • Diurnal variability
  • Seasonal variability
  • Dynamical downscaling
  • Reanalysis