Mathematical Geophysics Meeting Report

Land Surface Model Development Needs for Weather Prediction

Eighth Weather Research and Forecasting Working Group 14: Land Surface Modeling Workshop;
Boulder, Colorado, 26–27 June 2014

By , Jerry Wegiel, and Fei Chen

Scientists from the land surface modeling (LSM) community met in Boulder, Colo., in late June to discuss ways to better meet the modeling needs of weather prediction agencies. This was the eighth meeting of the Weather Research and Forecasting LSM working group known as WG14 since its inception in 2000. The workshop was organized and hosted by the Air Force Weather Agency and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Two days of discussions yielded several unifying themes, including the need for increased interagency collaboration. WG14 plans to achieve this through improved communications and execution of an integrated technology road map. An action plan is contained within the integrated technology roadmap. In the action plan, the Land Information System (LIS) framework is used to achieve the following goals: implementation of new land surface models (e.g., Pleim-Xiu LSM), assimilation of hydrological and meteorological data (e.g., soil moisture, snow depth, skin temperature), better parameter estimation to improve static hydraulic parameter data sets and land surface model output, and improved coupling with atmospheric models.

The WG14 action plan also addresses LSM benchmarking and standards and LSM development. Both goals will be enhanced by obtaining robust data sets that help validate LSM output and ensure that LSM output is accurate for physically consistent reasons. Robust data sets can be obtained from high-­quality sensors in well-­maintained networks where quality control standards are excellent (e.g., the High Plains Regional Climate Center Automated Weather Data Network).

Thus, WG14 recognizes the importance of advocating for funding of current networks and of new, state-of-the-art networks delivering “real-time” data for data assimilation. The result would be more accurate assessments of LSM output and improved prediction of catastrophic hydrologic events (e.g., the 2013 Colorado floods).

The integrated technology road map also addresses another theme discussed at the workshop: consistency. Participants expressed the need for improving temporal- and spatial-scale consistency in LSM physics and output, particularly when LSM output is directly linked to an atmospheric model. Challenges of scale consistency abound, and how to determine the best methods for rectifying differences varies across land surface models and data types. However, workshop participants agreed that increased communication within WG14, as well as implementing the steps in the road map, would lead to better guidelines for resolving issues of scale. The resulting improvements in consistency would enable scientists to better assess hydrological variables, such as runoff and convection, and to better predict meteorological events.

Thirty-one participants representing 17 institutions attended the workshop, which was held in conjunction with the annual Weather Research and Forecasting users meeting. Additional information is contained in the integrated technology road map on the WG14 site.

—Eric Hunt and Jerry Wegiel, Air Force Weather Agency, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; email:[email protected]; and Fei Chen, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo.

© 2014. American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved.