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WRF-Nested Regional Climate Model Simulation of a Hurricane

The data used in these visualizations were generated by the Advanced Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) run at 12km spatial resolution, with large-scale information provided by the Community Climate System Model (CCSM). The main purpose of this model run was to simulate future regional climate changes in North America.

Regional climate is largely impacted by extreme weather, such as hurricanes, heat waves, intensive rainfalls due to thunderstorms and/or passage of extratropical systems, etc. Such extreme events are poorly simulated by global climate models such as CCSM due to their coarse resolutions. However, with WRF, we are able see those extreme events more clearly and hence predict their future changes given information about large-scale climate changes from CCSM.

The following animations show a particular summer time out of the 11 year model integration. In the cloud fraction field, we see the occasional passage of fronts across the North American continent. There is a hurricane visible in the Gulf of Mexico, which forms just east of the Yucatan Peninsula, heads north across the Gulf, and makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle. As this hurricane develops, wind trajectories spin up around its eye, spiraling upward from the ocean surface to the tropopause. This scale of circulation and convection is hard to simulate with a global climate model such as CCSM. However, we are able to capture the detailed structure of a hurricane with WRF.

The NRCM combines the strengths of NCAR's WRF model and NCAR's Community Climate System Model into an instrument that will allow for fundamental progress on the understanding and prediction of regional climate variability and change. In particular, embedding WRF within CCSM will allow scientists to resolve processes that occur at the regional scale, as well as the influence of those processes on the large-scale climate, thereby improving the fidelity of climate change simulations and their utility for local and regional planning.

OpenDX Visualization of WRF Hurricane


QuickTime | Real | MPEG

Wind Trajectories with Qvapor
and Cloud Fraction Isosurfaces created with OpenDX.

Cloud Fraction Time Series


QuickTime | Real | MPEG

Cloud fraction animation created with Vapor.


Vapor Visualization of WRF Hurricane


QuickTime | Real | MPEG

Cloud fraction isosurface colored by pressure with wind trajectories. Created with Vapor.

Model Name: WRF-NRCM
Spatial Resolution: 12 KM
Domain Resolution: 937 (east-west) x 535 (north-south) x 51 (bottom-top)
Research Project 
Scientific Credit: NCAR NRCM team
Visualization Credit: Tim Scheitlin, NCAR/CISL