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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-31
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
05 Apr 2017
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Quantifying the added value of high resolution climate models: A systematic comparison of WRF simulations for complex Himalayan terrain
Ramchandra Karki1,2, Shabeh Hasson1,3, Lars Gerlitz4, Udo Schickhoff1, Thomas Scholten5, and Jürgen Böhner1 1Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability, Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg, Bundesstraße 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
2Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Government of Nepal, 406 Naxal, Kathmandu, Nepal
3Department of Space Sciences, Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad 44000, Pakistan
4Section Hydrology, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
5Soil Science and Geomorphology, University of Tübingen, Department of Geosciences, Rümelinstrasse 19-23, 72070 Tübingen, Germany
Abstract. Mesoscale dynamical refinements of global climate models or atmospheric reanalysis have shown their potential to resolve the intricate atmospheric processes, their land surface interactions, and subsequently, realistic distribution of climatic fields in complex terrains. Given that such potential is yet to be explored within the central Himalayan region of Nepal, we investigate the skill of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with different spatial resolutions in reproducing the spatial, seasonal and diurnal characteristics of the near-surface air temperature and precipitation, as well as, the spatial shifts in the diurnal monsoonal precipitation peak over the Khumbu (Everest), Rolwaling and adjacent southern areas. Therefore, the ERA-Interim (0.75°) reanalysis has been dynamically refined to 25, 5 and 1 km (D1, D2 and D3) for one complete hydrological year (Oct 2014–Sep 2015), using the one-way nested WRF model run with mild-nudging and parameterized convection for the outer but explicitly resolved convection for the inner domains. Our results suggest that D3 realistically reproduces the monsoonal precipitation, as compared to its underestimation by D1 but overestimation by D2. All three resolutions however overestimate precipitation from the westerly disturbances, owing to simulating anomalously higher intensity of few intermittent events. Temperatures are though generally well reproduced by all resolutions, winter and pre-monsoon seasons feature a high cold bias for high elevations while lower show a simultaneous warm bias. Contrary to higher resolutions, D1 fails to realistically reproduce the regional-scale nocturnal monsoonal peak precipitation observed at the Himalayan foothills and its diurnal shift towards high elevations, whereas D2 resolves these characteristics but exhibits a limited skill in reproducing such peak at the river valley scale due to the limited representation of the narrow valleys at 5 km resolution. Nonetheless, featuring a substantial skill over D1 and D2, D3 simulates almost realistic shapes of the seasonal and diurnal precipitation and the peak timings even at valley scales. These findings clearly suggest an added value of the convective scale resolutions in realistically resolving the topo-climates over the central Himalaya, which in turn allow simulating their interactions with the synoptic scale weather systems prevailing over High Asia.

Citation: Karki, R., Hasson, S., Gerlitz, L., Schickhoff, U., Scholten, T., and Böhner, J.: Quantifying the added value of high resolution climate models: A systematic comparison of WRF simulations for complex Himalayan terrain, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-31, in review, 2017.
Ramchandra Karki et al.
Ramchandra Karki et al.

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