New research will improve weather forecasting models

This extraordinary simulation of convective clouds near Darwin is part of study that compares cloud simulations in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with actual radar observations.


Animation produced by NCI Vizilab in collaboration with Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science researchers. Click on the picture to see the full animation – loading time will vary with connections.


The period of the simulation coincides with a major international field experiment: The Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment, held in January 2006. 

The object of the research into this simulation was to examine how well the WRF model represented tropical convection compared to real world observations and to quantify any errors, so climate and weather forecasting models could be improved.

To do this, the WRF model simulations used a series of nested grids. The highest resolution grid went down to a single grid size of just 417m. The National Computational Infrastructure Facility in Canberra provided the computing power to simulate this at such a detailed level.

When observations were compared to the simulation, some errors in the representation of the depth and intensity of simulated thunderstorms were revealed. As a result, this study will directly lead to improvements in the representation of clouds and thunderstorms in weather forecasting models.

Centre of Excellence researchers will also use these simulations to investigate the processes controlling the daily cycle of deep convection in the tropics. Through this research they can determine the processes that cause clouds to become organised into long-lived systems that expand and produce more thunderstorms.

A paper around this research, Statistical assessment of tropical convection-permitting model simulations using a cell-tracking algorithm, will be released in the Monthly Weather Review later this year.

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