A new Horizontal Length Scale for a Three-Dimensional Turbulence Parameterization in Mesoscale Atmospheric Modeling over Highly Complex Terrain

Goger, B.; Rotach, M.W.; Gohm, A.; Stiperski, I.; Fuhrer, O.; de Morsier, G.

Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 58(9): 2087-2102


ISSN/ISBN: 1558-8424
Accession: 081284986

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The correct simulation of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) in highly complex terrain is a challenge for mesoscale numerical weather prediction models. An improvement in model performance is possible if horizontal contributions to turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) production, such as horizontal shear production, are implemented in the model's turbulence parameterization. However, 3D turbulence parameterizations often only have a constant horizontal length scale that depends on the horizontal grid spacing. This is unphysical for mesoscale applications, because such parameterizations were initially developed for much smaller model grid spacings (e.g., for large-eddy simulations). In this study, we develop a new physically based horizontal length scale for the high-resolution mesoscale model COSMO. We analyze days dominated by thermally driven circulations (valley wind days) in the Inn Valley, Austria. Results show that the new horizontal length scale improves TKE simulations in the valley, when horizontal shear processes contribute to the overall TKE budget. Vertical profiles of TKE and transects across the valley indicate that the model simulates the ABL in a more realistic way than standard turbulence schemes, because the new scheme is able to account for terrain inhomogeneities. A model validation with 88 stations in Austria for four case study days indicates no change in the mean surface fields of temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed by the new turbulence parameterization.