Analysis of errors introduced by geographic coordinate systems on weather numeric prediction modeling
Most atmospheric models, including the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, use a spherical geographic coordinate system to internally represent input data and perform computations. However, most geographic information system (GIS) input data used by the models are based on a spheroid datum because it better represents the actual geometry of the earth. WRF and other atmospheric models use these GIS input layers as if they were in a spherical coordinate system without accounting for the difference in datum.
When GIS layers are not properly reprojected, latitudinal errors of up to 21 km in the midlatitudes are introduced. Recent studies have suggested that for very high-resolution applications, the difference in datum in the GIS input data (e.g., terrain land use, orography) should be taken into account. However, the magnitude of errors introduced by the difference in coordinate systems remains unclear. This research quantifies the effect of using a spherical vs. a spheroid datum for the input GIS layers used by WRF to study greenhouse gas transport and dispersion in northeast Pennsylvania.