An Improved Multi-Scale Modeling Framework for WRF over Complex Terrain

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
David John Wiersema, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, Katherine A Lundquist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, United States and Fotini K Chow, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States
Atmospheric modelers continue to push towards higher resolution simulations of the planetary boundary layer. As resolution is refined, the resolved terrain slopes increase. Atmospheric models using terrain-following coordinates, such as the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, suffer from numerical errors since steep terrain slopes lead to grid skewness, resulting in model failure. One solution to this problem is the use of an immersed boundary method, which uses a non-conforming grid, for simulations over complex terrain. Our implementation of an immersed boundary method in WRF, known as WRF-IBM, was developed for use at the micro-scale and has been shown to accurately simulate flow around complex topography, such as urban environments or mountainous terrain.

The research presented here describes our newly developed framework to enable concurrently run multi-scale simulations using the WRF model at the meso-scale and the WRF-IBM model at the micro-scale. WRF and WRF-IBM use different vertical coordinates therefore it is not possible to use the existing nesting framework to pass lateral boundary conditions from a WRF parent domain to a WRF-IBM nested domain.

Nesting between WRF and WRF-IBM requires “vertical grid nesting”, meaning the ability to pass information between domains with different vertical levels. Our newly implemented method for vertical grid nesting, available in the public release of WRFv3.6.1, allows nested domains to utilize different vertical levels. Using our vertical grid nesting code, we are currently developing the ability to nest a domain using IBM within a domain using terrain-following coordinates. Here we present results from idealized cases displaying the functionality of the multi-scale nesting framework and the advancement towards multi-scale meteorological simulations over complex terrain.