Development of a coupled groundwater-atmosphere model

Reed M. Maxwell, Julie K. Lundquist, Jeffrey D. Mirocha, Steven G. Smith, Carol S. Woodward, Andrew F.B. Tompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Complete models of the hydrologic cycle have gained recent attention as research has shown interdependence between the coupled land and energy balance of the subsurface, land surface, and lower atmosphere. PF.WRF is a new model that is a combination of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) atmospheric model and a parallel hydrology model (ParFlow) that fully integrates three-dimensional, variably saturated subsurface flow with overland flow. These models are coupled in an explicit, operator-splitting manner via the Noah land surface model (LSM). Here, the coupled model formulation and equations are presented and a balance of water between the subsurface, land surface, and atmosphere is verified. The improvement in important physical processes afforded by the coupled model using a number of semi-idealized simulations over the Little Washita watershed in the southernGreat Plains is demonstrated. These simulations are initialized with a set of offline spinups to achieve a balanced state of initial conditions. To quantify the significance of subsurface physics, comparedwith other physical processes calculated inWRF, these simulations are carried out with two different surface spinups and three different microphysics parameterizations inWRF. These simulations illustrate enhancements to coupled model physics for two applications: water resources and wind-energy forecasting. For the water resources example, it is demonstrated how PF.WRF simulates explicit rainfall and water storage within the basin and runoff. Then the hydrographs predicted by different microphysics schemes withinWRF are compared. Because soil moisture is expected to impact boundary layer winds, the applicability of the model to wind-energy applications is demonstrated by using PF.WRF and WRF simulations to provide estimates of wind and wind shear that are useful indicators of wind-power output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-116
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Coupled models
  • Hydrologic models


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