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Impact of Moist Physics Complexity On Tropical Cyclone Simulations From The Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast System


The parameterization of moist physics in numerical weather prediction models plays an important role in modulating tropical cyclone structure, intensity, and evolution. The Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast system (HWRF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s operational model for tropical cyclone prediction, uses the Scale-Aware Simplified Arakawa-Schubert (SASAS) cumulus scheme and a modified version of the Ferrier-Aligo (FA) microphysics scheme to parameterize moist physics. The FA scheme contains a number of simplifications that allow it to run efficiently in an operational setting, which includes prescribing values for hydrometeor number concentrations (i.e., single-moment microphysics) and advecting the total condensate rather than the individual hydrometeor species. To investigate the impact of these simplifying assumptions on the HWRF forecast, the FA scheme was replaced with the more complex double-moment Thompson microphysics scheme, which individually advects cloud ice, cloud water, rain, snow, and graupel. Retrospective HWRF forecasts of tropical cyclones that occurred in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific ocean basins from 2015–2017 were then simulated and compared to those produced by the operational HWRF configuration. Both traditional model verification metrics (i.e., tropical cyclone track and intensity) and process-oriented metrics (e.g., storm size, precipitation structure, and heating rates from the microphysics scheme) will be presented and compared. The sensitivity of these results to the cumulus scheme used (i.e., the operational SASAS versus the Grell-Freitas scheme) also will be examined. Finally, the merits of replacing the moist physics schemes that are used operationally with the alternatives tested here will be discussed from a standpoint of forecast accuracy versus computational resources.

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December 01, 2017

This publication was presented at the following:

AGU Fall Meeting - 2017
American Geophysical Union


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