A Dynamical Downscaling study over the Great Lakes Region Using WRF-Lake: Historical Simulation

Friday, 19 December 2014
Chuliang Xiao, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United States and Brent M Lofgren, NOAA Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
As the largest group of fresh water bodies on Earth, the Laurentian Great Lakes have significant influence on local and regional weather and climate through their unique physical features compared with the surrounding land. Due to the limited spatial resolution and computational efficiency of general circulation models (GCMs), the Great Lakes are geometrically ignored or idealized into several grid cells in GCMs. Thus, the nested regional climate modeling (RCM) technique, known as dynamical downscaling, serves as a feasible solution to fill the gap. The latest Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) is employed to dynamically downscale the historical simulation produced by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory-Coupled Model (GFDL-CM3) from 1970-2005. An updated lake scheme originated from the Community Land Model is implemented in the latest WRF version 3.6. It is a one-dimensional mass and energy balance scheme with 20-25 model layers, including up to 5 snow layers on the lake ice, 10 water layers, and 10 soil layers on the lake bottom. The lake scheme is used with actual lake points and lake depth. The preliminary results show that WRF-Lake model, with a fine horizontal resolution and realistic lake representation, provides significantly improved hydroclimates, in terms of lake surface temperature, annual cycle of precipitation, ice content, and lake-effect snowfall. Those improvements suggest that better resolution of the lakes and the mesoscale process of lake-atmosphere interaction are crucial to understanding the climate and climate change in the Great Lakes region.