Evaluation of the Impact of Horizontal Grid Spacing in Terra Incognita on Coupled Mesoscale-Microscale Simulations Using the WRF Framework

Caroline Draxl, Raj Rai, Larry Berg, Branko Kosovic, Sue Haupt, Jeffrey Mirocha, Brandon Ennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus Citations


Coupled mesoscale-microscale simulations are required to provide time-varying weather-dependent inflow and forcing for large-eddy simulations under general flow conditions. Such coupling necessarily spans a wide range of spatial scales (i.e., ~10m to ~10 km). Herein, we use simulations that involve multiple nested domains with horizontal grid spacings in the terra incognita (i.e.,≲1 km) that may affect simulated conditions in both the outer and inner domains.Weexamine the impact on simulated wind speed and turbulence associated with forcing provided by a terrain with grid spacing in the terra incognita. We perform a suite of simulations that use combinations of varying horizontal grid spacings and turbulence parameterization/modeling using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model using a combination of planetary boundary layer (PBL) and large-eddy simulation subgrid-scale (LES-SGS) models. The results are analyzed in terms of spectral energy, turbulence kinetic energy, and proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) energy. The results show that the output from the microscale domain depends on the type of turbulence model (e.g., PBL or LES-SGS model) used for a given horizontal grid spacing but is independent of the horizontal grid spacing and turbulence modeling of the parent domain. Simulation using a single domain produced less POD energy in the first few modes compared to a coupled simulation (one-way nesting) for similar horizontal grid spacing, which highlights that coupled simulations are required to accurately pass the mesoscale features into the microscale domain.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1007-1027
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Meteorological Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-72203


  • Large eddy simulations
  • Mesoscale models
  • Planetary atmospheres


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of the Impact of Horizontal Grid Spacing in Terra Incognita on Coupled Mesoscale-Microscale Simulations Using the WRF Framework'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this