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Evaluating the performance of a WRF physics ensemble over South-East Australia

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When using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) modelling system it is necessary to choose between many parametrisations for each physics option. This study examines the performance of various physics scheme combinations on the simulation of a series of rainfall events near the south-east coast of Australia known as East Coast Lows. A thirty-six member multi-physics ensemble was created such that each member had a unique set of physics parametrisations. No single ensemble member was found to perform best for all events, variables and metrics. This is reflected in the fact that different climate variables are found to be sensitive to different physical parametrisations. While a standardised super-metric can be used to identify best performers, a step-wise decision approach described here, allows explicit recognition of the “robustness” of choosing one parameterisation over another, allowing the identification of a group of “equally robustly” performing physics combinations. These results suggest that the Mellor-Yamada-Janjic planetary boundary layer scheme and the Betts-Miller-Janjic cumulus scheme can be chosen with some robustness. Possibly with greater confidence, the results also suggest that the Yonsei University planetary boundary layer scheme, Kain-Fritsch cumulus scheme and RRTMG radiation scheme should not be used in combination in this region. Results further indicate that the selection of physics scheme options has larger impact on model performance during the more intensive rainfall events.

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This work is made possible by funding from the NSW Environmental Trust for the ESCCI-ECL project, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage backed NSW/ACT Regional Climate Modelling Project (NARCliM), and the Australian Research Council as part of the Discovery Project DP0772665. Thanks to the Australian Climate Change Science Program (ACCSP) and the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative (SEACI) for funding the CSIRO contribution to this study. This work was supported by an award under the Merit Allocation Scheme on the NCI National Facility at the Australian National University.

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Correspondence to Jason P. Evans.

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Evans, J.P., Ekström, M. & Ji, F. Evaluating the performance of a WRF physics ensemble over South-East Australia. Clim Dyn 39, 1241–1258 (2012).

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