Coupling fast all-season soil strength land surface model with weather research and forecasting model to assess low-level icing in complex terrain.

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Sines, Taleena R.
Icing poses as a severe hazard to aircraft safety with financial resources and even human lives hanging in the balance when the decision to ground a flight must be made. When analyzing the effects of ice on aviation, a chief cause for danger is the disruption of smooth airflow, which increases the drag force on the aircraft therefore decreasing its ability to create lift. The Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model Advanced Research WRF (WRF-ARW) is a collaboratively created, flexible model designed to run on distributed computing systems for a variety of applications including forecasting research, parameterization research, and real-time numerical weather prediction. Land-surface models, one of the physics options available in the WRF-ARW, output surface heat and moisture flux given radiation, precipitation, and surface properties such as soil type. They are a critical component of forecast models because they serve as a link between water sources and the atmosphere through surface and groundwater. The Fast All-Season Soil STrength (FASST) land-surface model was developed by the U.S. Army ERDC-CRREL in Hanover, New Hampshire. Originally, FASST was intended for the military purpose of providing information to mobility and sensor performance algorithms, but has since been utilized in civilian applications and research. Designed to use both meteorological and terrain data, the model calculates heat and moisture within the surface layer as well as the exchange of these parameters between the soil, surface elements (such as snow and vegetation), and atmosphere. Focusing on the Presidential Mountain Range of New Hampshire under the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Icing Assessments in Cold and Alpine Environments project, one of the main goals is to create a customized, high resolution model to predict and assess ice accretion in complex terrain. The purpose of this research is to couple the FASST land-surface model with the WRF to improve icing forecasts in complex terrain. Coupling FASST with the WRF-ARW may improve icing forecasts because of its sophisticated approach to handling processes such as meltwater, freezing, thawing, and others that would affect the water and energy budget and in turn affect icing forecasts. Several transformations had to take place in order for the FASST land-surface model and WRF-ARW to work together as fully coupled models. Changes had to be made to the WRF-ARW build mechanisms (Chapter 1, section a) so that FASST would be recognized as a new option that could be chosen through the namelist and compiled with other modules. Similarly, FASST had to be altered to no longer read meteorological data from a file, but accept input from WRF-ARW at each time step in a way that did not alter the integrity or run-time processes of the model. Several icing events were available to test the newly coupled model as well as the performance of other available land-surface models from the WRF-ARW. A variation of event intensities and durations from these events were chosen to give a broader view of the land-surface models' abilities to accurately predict icing in complex terrain. Non-icing events were also used in testing to ensure the land-surface models were not predicting ice in the events where none occurred. Four locations were chosen across the modeled domain: Mount Washington (NH), Plymouth (NH), Waterville (ME), and Bennington (VT) to evaluate the 2m temperature results that the WRF-ARW produced using the FASST, Noah, RUC(Rapid Update Cycle), and Thermal Diffusion land-surface models. When compared to the other land-surface models and observations FASST showed a warm bias in several regions. As the forecasts progressed, FASST appeared to attempt to correct this bias and performed similarly to the other land-surface models and at times better than these land-surface models in areas of the domain not affected by this bias. To correct this warm bias, future investigation should be conducted into the reasoning behind this warm bias, including but not limited to: FASST operation and elevation modeling, WRF-ARW variables and forecasting methods, as well as allowing for spin-up prior to forecast times. Following the correction to the warm bias, FASST can be parallelized to allow for operational forecast performance and included in the WRF-ARW forecasting suite for future software releases.