Hybrid mass coordinate in WRF-ARW and its impact on upper-level turbulence forecasting

Sang Hun Park, Joseph B. Klemp, Jung Hoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Although a terrain-following vertical coordinate is well suited for the application of surface boundary conditions, it iswell known that the influences of the terrain on the coordinate surfaces can contribute to increase numerical errors, particularly over steep topography. To reduce these errors, a hybrid sigma-pressure coordinate is formulated in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model, and its effects are illustrated for both an idealized test case and a real-data forecast for upper-level turbulence. The idealized test case confirms that with the basic sigma coordinate, significant upper-level disturbances can be produced due to numerical errors that arise as the advection of strong horizontal flow is computed along coordinate surfaces that are perturbed by smaller-scale terrain influences. With the hybrid coordinate, this artificial noise is largely eliminated as the mid- and upper-level coordinate surfaces correspond much more closely to constant pressure surfaces. In real-data simulations for upper-level turbulence forecasting, theWRF Model using the basic sigma coordinate tends to overpredict the strength of upper-air turbulence over mountainous regions because of numerical errors arising as a strong upper-level jet is advected along irregular coordinate surfaces.With the hybrid coordinate, these errors are reduced, resulting in an improved forecast of upper-level turbulence. Analysis of kinetic energy spectra for these simulations confirms that artificial amplitudes in the smaller scales at upper levels that arise with the basic sigma coordinate are effectively removed when the hybrid coordinate is used.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)971-985
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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