Sensitivity of WRF cloud microphysics to simulations of a severe thunderstorm event over Southeast India
In the present study, we have used the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to simulate the features associated with a severe thunderstorm observed over Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E), over southeast India, on 21 May 2008 and examined its sensitivity to four different microphysical (MP) schemes (Thompson, Lin, WSM6 and Morrison). We have used the WRF model with three nested domains with the innermost domain of 2 km grid spacing with explicit convection. The model was integrated for 36 h with the GFS initial conditions of 00:00 UTC, 21 May 2008. For validating simulated features of the thunderstorm, we have considered the vertical wind measurements made by the Indian MST radar installed at Gadanki, reflectivity profiles by the Doppler Weather Radar at Chennai, and automatic weather station data at Gadanki.
There are major differences in the simulations of the thunderstorm among the MP schemes, in spite of using the same initial and boundary conditions and model configuration. First of all, all the four schemes simulated severe convection over Gadanki almost an hour before the observed storm. The DWR data suggested passage of two convective cores over Gadanki on 21 May, which was simulated by the model in all the four MP schemes. Comparatively, the Thompson scheme simulated the observed features of the updraft/downdraft cores reasonably well. However, all the four schemes underestimated strength and vertical extend of the updraft cores. The MP schemes also showed problems in simulating the downdrafts associated with the storm. While the Thompson scheme simulated surface rainfall distribution closer to observations, the other three schemes overestimated observed rainfall. However, all the four MP schemes simulated the surface wind variations associated with the thunderstorm reasonably well. The model simulated reflectivity profiles were consistent with the observed reflectivity profile, showing two convective cores. These features are consistent with the simulated condensate profiles, which peaked around 5–6 km. As the results are dependent on initial conditions, in simulations with different initial conditions, different schemes may become closer to observations. The present study suggests not only large sensitivity but also variability of the microphysical schemes in the simulations of the thunderstorm. The study also emphasizes the need for a comprehensive observational campaign using multi-observational platforms to improve the parameterization of the cloud microphysics and land surface processes over the Indian region.