Sensitivity of Near-Surface Variables in the RUC Land Surface Model in the Weather Research and Forecasting Model

Geng Xia, Tatiana Smirnova, David Turner, Siwei He, Ben Yang, Larry Berg, Caroline Draxl

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


In this study, we investigate the parametric sensitivity of near-surface variables, such as sensible heat flux, latent heat flux, ground heat flux, hub-height wind speed and land surface temperature, to the parameters used in the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) land surface model (LSM) during a wintertime and summertime period. The model simulations are compared with observations collected from the second Wind Forecast Improvement Project (WFIP2) field campaign. The results suggest that parameters related to snow/ice and thermal processes can have significant impact on the simulated near-surface variables. Out of the 11 examined parameters, only 6 of them have considerable influences on the model behaviors and explain about 60 ~ 80 % of the estimated total variance of the simulated variables. In addition, the magnitude of the parametric sensitivity varies with season. For instance, parameters associated with snow/ice processes are dominant during the wintertime whereas those associated with thermal processes are more important during the summertime. Furthermore, the impact of the identified parameters on the simulated variables is highly related to the topography. There is a high degree of sensitivity to the parameter values over the slope region. This points out the importance of collecting field observations over steep areas to better quantity the appropriate values of key parameters. Overall, our findings provide a better understanding of the RUC LSM behavior associated with parameter uncertainties and can be used to improve the forecasting skill of land surface processes via calibration of the most uncertain model parameters.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages40
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-84961


  • land surface modeling
  • paremeter sensitivity
  • WRF


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