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Simulation of seasonal US precipitation and temperature by the nested CWRF-ECHAM system
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    Climate Dynamics, 46(3-4), 879-896.
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  • Description:
    This study investigates the refined simulation skill that results when the regional Climate extension of the Weather Research and Forecasting (CWRF) model is nested in the ECMWF Hamburg version 4.5 (ECHAM) atmospheric general circulation model over the United States during 1980-2009, where observed sea surface temperatures are used in both models. Over the contiguous US, for each of the four seasons from winter to fall, CWRF reduces the root mean square error of the ECHAM seasonal mean surface air temperature simulation by 0.19, 0.82, 2.02 and 1.85 A degrees C, and increases the equitable threat score of seasonal mean precipitation by 0.18, 0.11, 0.09 and 0.12. CWRF also simulates much more realistically daily precipitation frequency and heavy precipitation events, typically over the Central Great Plains, Cascade Mountains and Gulf Coast States. These CWRF skill enhancements are attributed to the increased spatial resolution and physics refinements in representing orographic, terrestrial hydrology, convection, and cloud-aerosol-radiation effects and their interactions. Empirical orthogonal function analysis of seasonal mean precipitation and surface air temperature interannual variability shows that, in general, CWRF substantially improves the spatial distribution of both quantities, while temporal evolution (i.e. interannual variability) of the first 3 primary patterns is highly correlated with that of the driving ECHAM (except for summer precipitation), and they both have low temporal correlations against observations. During winter, when large-scale forcing dominates, both models also have similar responses to strong ENSO signals where they successfully capture observed precipitation composite anomalies but substantially fail to reproduce surface air temperature anomalies. When driven by the ECMWF Reanalysis Interim, CWRF produces a very realistic interannual evolution of large-scale precipitation and surface air temperature patterns where the temporal correlations with observations are significant. These results indicate that CWRF can greatly improve mesoscale regional climate structures but it cannot change interannual variations of the large-scale patterns, which are determined by the driving lateral boundary conditions.

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