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Measurements and Model Improvement: Insight Into NWP Model Error Using Doppler Lidar and Other WFIP2 Measurement Systems


Doppler-lidar wind-profile measurements at three sites were used to evaluate NWP model errors from two versions of NOAA’s 3-km-grid HRRR model, to see whether updates in the latest version 4 reduced errors when compared against the original version 1. Nested (750-m grid) versions of each were also tested to see how grid spacing affected forecast skill. The measurements were part of the field phase of the Second Wind Forecasting Improvement Project (WFIP2), an 18-month deployment into central Oregon–Washington, a major wind-energy-producing region. This study focuses on errors in simulating marine intrusions, a summertime, 600–800-m-deep, regional sea-breeze flow found to generate large errors. HRRR errors proved to be complex and site dependent. The most prominent error resulted from a premature drop in modeled marine-intrusion wind speeds after local midnight, when lidar-measured winds of greater than 8 m s−1 persisted through the next morning. These large negative errors were offset at low levels by positive errors due to excessive mixing, complicating the interpretation of model “improvement,” such that the updates to the full-scale versions produced mixed results, sometimes enhancing but sometimes degrading model skill. Nesting consistently improved model performance, with version 1’s nest producing the smallest errors overall. HRRR’s ability to represent the stages of sea-breeze forcing was evaluated using radiation budget, surface-energy balance, and near-surface temperature measurements available during WFIP2. The significant site-to-site differences in model error and the complex nature of these errors mean that field-measurement campaigns having dense arrays of profiling sensors are necessary to properly diagnose and characterize model errors, as part of a systematic approach to NWP model improvement.

Article / Publication Data
Available Metadata
Early Online Release
December 05, 2023
Fiscal Year
Peer Reviewed
Publication Name
Monthly Weather Review
Published On
December 01, 2023
Publisher Name
Print Volume


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