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Model performance of downscaling 1999-2004 hydrometeorological fields to the upper Rio Grande basin using different forcing datasets

  • Author(s): Li, J
  • Gao, X
  • Sorooshian, S
  • et al.

This study downscaled more than five years of data (1999-2004) for hydrometeorological fields over the upper Rio Grande basin (URGB) to a 4-km resolution using a regional model [fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5, version 3)] and two forcing datasets that include National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)-NCAR reanalysis-1 (R1) and North America Regional Reanalysis (NARR) data. The long-term high-resolution simulation results show detailed patterns of hydroclimatological fields that are highly related to the characteristics of the regional terrain; the most important of these patterns are precipitation localization features caused by the complex topography. In comparison with station observational data, the downscaling processing, on whichever forcing field is used, generated more accurate surface temperature and humidity fields than the Eta Model and NARR data, although it still included marked errors, such as a negative (positive) bias toward the daily maximum (minimum) temperature and overestimated precipitation, especially in the cold season. Comparing the downscaling results forced by the NARR and R1 with both the gridded and station observational data shows that under the NARR forcing, the MM5 model produced generally better results for precipitation, temperature, and humidity than it did under the R1 forcing. These improvements were more apparent in winter and spring. During the warm season, although the use of NARR improved the precipitation estimates statistically at the regional (basin) scale, it substantially underestimated them over the southern upper Rio Grande basin, partly because the NARR forcing data exhibited warm and dry biases in the monsoon-active region during the simulation period and improper domain selection. Analyses also indicate that over mountainous regions, both the Climate Prediction Center's (CPC's) gridded (0.25°) and NARR forcings underestimate precipitation in comparison with station gauge data. © 2008 American Meteorological Society.

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