WRF ensemble downscaling seasonal forecasts of China winter precipitation during 1982-2008

Xing Yuan, Xin Zhong Liang, Eric F. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The non-hydrostatic Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) was nested into NCEP's operational seasonal forecast model Climate Forecast System (CFS) to downscale seasonal prediction of winter precipitation over continental China. Using the same initial conditions, 16 ensemble downscaling forecasts configured with two alternative schemes of microphysics, cumulus, land surface and radiation in WRF were conducted at 30 km for 27-cold seasons (December-February) during 1982-2008. On average, WRF downscaling forecasts reduced wet bias of seasonal mean precipitation from CFS prediction by 25-71%, decreased errors by up to 33%, and increased equitable threat score by 0. 1 for low threshold. With appropriate physical configurations, WRF could improve interannual variations over the region where CFS has correct anomaly signal. The spatial distribution of daily precipitation characteristics such as rainy frequency and extremes highlighted the sensitivity of downscaling forecasts to physical configurations, and the dominant uncertainties were introduced by land surface and radiation schemes. The differences in convective and resolved rainfall between alternative land surface and radiation schemes were consistent with differences of surface downwelling shortwave and longwave radiation through cloud-radiation feedback. Such feedback was strengthened in the land surface sensitivity experiments due to different parameterizations of surface albedo. As compared with CFS ensemble predictions with different initial conditions, the WRF ensemble downscaling forecasts with various physical schemes had larger spread, and some schemes could complement each other in different regions that provided a promising opportunity to enhance the prediction through optimization. The optimized WRF reduced error from the optimized CFS by 30% and increased pattern correlation by 0. 12. Moreover, WRF physical configuration ensemble increased percentage of skillful probabilistic forecasts from CFS initial condition ensemble.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2041-2058
Number of pages18
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Oct 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Ensemble downscaling
  • Precipitation prediction
  • Seasonal climate forecast
  • WRF


Dive into the research topics of 'WRF ensemble downscaling seasonal forecasts of China winter precipitation during 1982-2008'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this