Sensitivity of simulated summer monsoonal precipitation in Langtang Valley, Himalaya, to cloud microphysics schemes in WRF

A. Orr, C. Listowski, M. Couttet, E. Collier, W. Immerzeel, P. Deb, D. Bannister

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A better understanding of regional‐scale precipitation patterns in the Himalayan region is required to increase our knowledge of the impacts of climate change on downstream water availability. This study examines the impact of four cloud microphysical schemes (Thompson, Morrison, Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) single‐moment 5‐class, and WRF double‐moment 6‐class) on summer monsoon precipitation in the Langtang Valley in the central Nepalese Himalayas, as simulated by the WRF model at 1 km grid spacing for a 10 day period in July 2012. The model results are evaluated through a comparison with surface precipitation and radiation measurements made at two observation sites. Additional understanding is gained from a detailed examination of the microphysical characteristics simulated by each scheme, which are compared with measurements using a spaceborne radar/lidar cloud product. Also examined are the roles of large‐ and small‐scale forcings. In general, the schemes are able to capture the timing of surface precipitation better than the actual amounts in the Langtang Valley, which are predominately underestimated, with the Morrison scheme showing the best agreement with the measured values. The schemes all show a large positive bias in incoming radiation. Analysis of the radar/lidar cloud product and hydrometeors from each of the schemes suggests that “cold‐rain” processes are a key precipitation formation mechanism, which is also well represented by the Morrison scheme. As well as microphysical structure, both large‐scale and localized forcings are also important for determining surface precipitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6298-6318
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number12
Early online date31 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2017


  • microphysics
  • Langtang Valley
  • WRF
  • precipitation
  • Himalayas

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