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Performance of multi-physics ensembles in convective precipitation events over northeastern Spain

García-Ortega, E., Lorenzana, J., Merino, A., Fernández-González, S., López, L., Sánchez, J.L.
Atmospheric research 2017 v.190 pp. 55-67
financial economics, hail, physics, risk, uncertainty, weather research and forecasting model, Spain
Convective precipitation with hail greatly affects southwestern Europe, causing major economic losses. The local character of this meteorological phenomenon is a serious obstacle to forecasting. Therefore, the development of reliable short-term forecasts constitutes an essential challenge to minimizing and managing risks. However, deterministic outcomes are affected by different uncertainty sources, such as physics parameterizations. This study examines the performance of different combinations of physics schemes of the Weather Research and Forecasting model to describe the spatial distribution of precipitation in convective environments with hail falls. Two 30-member multi-physics ensembles, with two and three domains of maximum resolution 9 and 3km each, were designed using various combinations of cumulus, microphysics and radiation schemes. The experiment was evaluated for 10 convective precipitation days with hail over 2005–2010 in northeastern Spain. Different indexes were used to evaluate the ability of each ensemble member to capture the precipitation patterns, which were compared with observations of a rain-gauge network. A standardized metric was constructed to identify optimal performers. Results show interesting differences between the two ensembles. In two domain simulations, the selection of cumulus parameterizations was crucial, with the Betts-Miller-Janjic scheme the best. In contrast, the Kain-Fristch cumulus scheme gave the poorest results, suggesting that it should not be used in the study area. Nevertheless, in three domain simulations, the cumulus schemes used in coarser domains were not critical and the best results depended mainly on microphysics schemes. The best performance was shown by Morrison, New Thomson and Goddard microphysics.