Articles | Volume 7, issue 6
Development and technical paper
18 Nov 2014
Development and technical paper |  | 18 Nov 2014

MM5 v3.6.1 and WRF v3.5.1 model comparison of standard and surface energy variables in the development of the planetary boundary layer

C.-S. M. Wilmot, B. Rappenglück, X. Li, and G. Cuchiara

Abstract. Air quality forecasting requires atmospheric weather models to generate accurate meteorological conditions, one of which is the development of the planetary boundary layer (PBL). An important contributor to the development of the PBL is the land–air exchange captured in the energy budget as well as turbulence parameters. Standard and surface energy variables were modeled using the fifth-generation Penn State/National Center for Atmospheric Research mesoscale model (MM5), version 3.6.1, and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, version 3.5.1, and compared to measurements for a southeastern Texas coastal region. The study period was 28 August–1 September 2006. It also included a frontal passage.

The results of the study are ambiguous. Although WRF does not perform as well as MM5 in predicting PBL heights, it better simulates energy budget and most of the general variables. Both models overestimate incoming solar radiation, which implies a surplus of energy that could be redistributed in either the partitioning of the surface energy variables or in some other aspect of the meteorological modeling not examined here. The MM5 model consistently had much drier conditions than the WRF model, which could lead to more energy available to other parts of the meteorological system. On the clearest day of the study period, MM5 had increased latent heat flux, which could lead to higher evaporation rates and lower moisture in the model. However, this latent heat disparity between the two models is not visible during any other part of the study. The observed frontal passage affected the performance of most of the variables, including the radiation, flux, and turbulence variables, at times creating dramatic differences in the r2 values.