Evaluation of the WRF lake module (v1.0) and its improvements at a deep reservoir
Large lakes and reservoirs play important roles in modulating regional hydrological cycles and climate; however, their representations in coupled models remain uncertain. The existing lake module in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) system (hereafter WRF-Lake), although widely used, did not accurately predict temperature profiles in deep lakes mainly due to its poor lake surface property parameterizations and underestimation of heat transfer between lake layers. We therefore revised WRF-Lake by improving its (1) numerical discretization scheme; (2) surface property parameterization; (3) diffusivity parameterization for deep lakes; and (4) convection scheme, the outcome of which became WRF-rLake (i.e., revised lake model). We evaluated the off-line WRF-rLake by comparing simulated and measured water temperature at the Nuozhadu Reservoir, a deep reservoir in southwestern China. WRF-rLake performs better than its predecessor by reducing the root-mean-square error (RMSE) against observed lake surface temperatures (LSTs) from 1.4 to 1.1 ∘C and consistently improving simulated vertical temperature profiles. We also evaluated the sensitivity of simulated water temperature and surface energy fluxes to various modeled lake processes. We found (1) large changes in surface energy balance fluxes (up to 60 W m−2) associated with the improved surface property parameterization and (2) that the simulated lake thermal structure depends strongly on the light extinction coefficient and vertical diffusivity. Although currently only evaluated at the Nuozhadu Reservoir, we expect that these model parameterization and structural improvements could be general and therefore recommend further testing at other deep lakes and reservoirs.