Evaluation of wintertime precipitation forecasts over the Australian Snowy Mountains

Yi Huang, Thomas Chubb, Fahimeh Sarmadi, Steven T Siems, Michael J Manton, Charmaine Franklin, Elizabeth Ebert

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Abstract

This study evaluates the Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator (ACCESS) Numerical Weather Prediction system in forecasting precipitation across the Australian Snowy Mountains for two cool seasons. Metrics based on seasonal accumulated and daily precipitation show that the model is able to reproduce the observed domain-mean accumulated precipitation reasonably well (with a slight overestimation), but this is, in part, due to a compensation of various errors. Both the frequency and intensity of the heavy precipitation days (domain-mean daily precipitation >5 mm day−1) are overrepresented, particularly over the complex terrain and high-elevation areas, whereas the frequency of the very light precipitation days (domain-mean daily precipitation <1 mm day−1) is underestimated, primarily over lower-elevation areas both upwind and downwind of the mountains. Most of the precipitation is forecasted by the grid-scale precipitation scheme, with appreciable snowfalls predicted over the high elevations. The model also demonstrates appreciable skill in reproducing the synoptic regimes. The proportion of the forecast precipitation for each regime is comparable to the observations, although the orographic enhancement over the western slopes of the mountains is more pronounced in the forecasts, particularly for the wetter regimes. An examination on the effect of the lower-atmosphere stability suggests that most of the precipitation (50–70% over the high elevations) is produced under the “unblocked” condition, which is diagnosed 31% of the time. The remainder is produced under the “blocked” condition. Combined with a case study, potential sources of error associated with the forecast precipitation biases are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-61
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Research
Volume207
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Australian Snowy Mountains
  • Cloud thermodynamic phase
  • Lower-atmosphere stability
  • Orographic precipitation
  • Quantitative precipitation forecast
  • Synoptic regimes

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