Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
Research article
06 Aug 2014
Research article |  | 06 Aug 2014

Sensitivity of the WRF model to the lower boundary in an extreme precipitation event – Madeira island case study

J. C. Teixeira, A. C. Carvalho, M. J. Carvalho, T. Luna, and A. Rocha

Abstract. The advances in satellite technology in recent years have made feasible the acquisition of high-resolution information on the Earth's surface. Examples of such information include elevation and land use, which have become more detailed. Including this information in numerical atmospheric models can improve their results in simulating lower boundary forced events, by providing detailed information on their characteristics. Consequently, this work aims to study the sensitivity of the weather research and forecast (WRF) model to different topography as well as land-use simulations in an extreme precipitation event. The test case focused on a topographically driven precipitation event over the island of Madeira, which triggered flash floods and mudslides in the southern parts of the island. Difference fields between simulations were computed, showing that the change in the data sets produced statistically significant changes to the flow, the planetary boundary layer structure and precipitation patterns. Moreover, model results show an improvement in model skill in the windward region for precipitation and in the leeward region for wind, in spite of the non-significant enhancement in the overall results with higher-resolution data sets of topography and land use.

Final-revised paper