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Description of the WRF-1d Planetary

Boundary Layer Model


Robert Tardif and Joshua P. Hacker
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Research Applications Laboratory
Version 1, November 2006
1 General model formulation
The PBL 1d model available within the Data Assimilation Research Testbed (DART)
is a one-dimensional (1d) stand-alone implementation of a subset of physical param-
eterizations available in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) mesoscale
numerical weather prediction model (Skamarock et al., 2005). It is designed to rep-
resent the evolution of vertical proles in the lower atmosphere induced by the land-
atmosphere coupling and associated exhanges of energy and momentum taking place
along the vertical axis only. Underlying this approach is an assumption of horizontal
homogeneity (/x = /y = 0).
The model is composed of three main modules, with a module designed to repre-
sent the evolution of atmospheric conditions, another module representing the evolu-
tion of conditions in the underlying soil medium and a third module describing the
coupling between the soil surface and the atmosphere.
The general model equations describing the evolution of the state of the atmo-
sphere are derived based on the assumption that Reynolds averaging can be applied
on the model variables, providing for a scale separation between resolved (mean)
and unresolved (turbulent) parts of the atmospheric state. This decomposition is
expressed as
= +

(1)
where is the resolved (mean) part of and

is the deviation from the mean


related to turbulent motions. Here is any of the model variables, which are u
(meridional wind component), v (latitudinal wind component), (potential temper-
ature, =(1000/p)
R/c
p
with p the atmospheric pressure, R the gas constant and c
p
the specic heat capacity at constant pressure) and q
v
(mixing ratio of water vapor).
Using this decomposition, the principles of conservation of mass, heat and moisture
and the simplifying assumption of horizontal homogeneity, the models basic set of
equations can be derived (note: the overbar is omitted hereafter in the representation
1
Column model documentation Draft 2
of the mean quantities except when correlations are concerned to preserve the clarity
of the notation):
u
t
= f(v v
g
)
(u

)
z
, (2)
v
t
= f(u u
g
)
(v

)
z
, (3)

t
=
(w

)
z
, (4)
q
v
t
=
(w

v
)
z
. (5)
The u
g
and v
g
terms represent the components of the wind driven by the large scale
horizontal pressure gradient (so-called geostrophic wind). f is the Coriolis parameter.
In each of the equations, the last term on the right-hand side represents the vertical
divergence of the mean correlation between the turbulent perturbations (u

, v

or q

v
) with the perturbation in the vertical wind (w

) associated with small-scale


turbulent motions in the atmosphere. Such correlations are commonly designated
as turbulent uxes. Much of the problem in numerical modeling of the turbulent
atmosphere is related to the numerical representation (or parameterization) of these
uxes (e.g. the turbulence closure problem).
The rest of the document is devoted to describing the set of parameterizations
included in the model, including the representation of turbulent uxes, the evolution
of conditions within the soil and the coupling between the surface and the atmosphere
(boundary condition for the atmospheric model).
2 Parameterizations
2.1 Boundary layer uxes
The intuitive approach to the turbulence closure problem is to relate the turbulent
uxes to the mean (resolved) state of the atmosphere. By analogy with the theory of
molecular diusion, the ux of quantity is related to the resolved spatial gradients
of through an eddy diusivity. Following the assumption of horizontal homogeneity,
only the vertical component remains
w

= K

z
, (6)
where K is the eddy diusivity coecient. A distinction is usually made between the
coecient for momentum (K
m
) and for heat and moisture (K
h
).
Numerous formulations for the eddy diusivity have been proposed, forming the
basis of various boundary layer parameterization schemes used in operational and re-
search mesoscale models. Several parameterization schemes are available in the model
(Pagowski et al., 2006). These are the Medium-Range Forecast scheme (MRF) (Troen
Column model documentation Draft 3
and Mahrt, 1986; Hong and Pan, 1996) and its successor, the Yonsei University scheme
(YSU) (Hong et al., 2006). These rst order closure schemes are complemented by
the Mellor-Yamada-Janjic (MYJ) one-and-a-half order closure scheme (Mellor and
Yamada, 1982; Janjic, 2001). This scheme is also refered to a Level 2.5 scheme using
the terminology used in the classication proposed by Mellor and Yamada (1974).
One-and-a-half order closure schemes use a prognostic second-order moment (tur-
bulence kinetic energy or TKE) in the formulation of the eddy diusivity. Tests of
the various schemes in combination with various land surface models did not provide
compelling evidence of the superiority of a scheme over the others (Pagowski et al.,
2006). Some evidence of more accurate results obtained with the MYJ scheme have
been presented by Weisman et al. (2006) in the context of real-time WRF convective
forecasts. Our focus in this documentation will be on the MYJ scheme as it is the
scheme used in operational models (e.g. NCEPs Eta model). Furthermore, it oers
an additional prognostic variable describing the turbulent state of the boundary layer
(TKE).
From dimensional analysis, the eddy diusivity coecient in a one-and-a-half
order closure scheme is typically formulated as
K

e, (7)
where is a length scale and e is the TKE (second order moment)
e =
1
2
_
(u

)
2
+ (v

)
2
+ (w

)
2
_
. (8)
In this type of formulation, the length scale is designed to represent the spatial scale
over which turbulent eddies are mixing properties and the TKE is a representation
of the intensity with which the mixing is taking place. In the MYJ implementation,
TKE is expressed through the variable
q =

2e, (9)
with the eddy diusivity coecients expressed as
K
m
=
M
S
m
q, (10)
K
h
=
M
S
h
q. (11)
The S
m
and S
h
terms are coecients modifying a master length scale (
M
) as a
function of wind shear and buoyancy. The set of coupled equations governing their
behavior is
S
m
(6A
1
A
2
G
m
) + S
h
(1 3A
2
B
2
G
h
12A
1
A
2
G
h
) = A
2
, (12)
S
m
_
1 + 6A
2
1
G
m
9A
1
A
2
G
h
_
S
h
_
12A
2
1
G
h
+ 9A
1
A
2
G
h
_
= A
1
(1 3C
1
) .(13)
The constants A
1
, A
2
, B
2
and C
1
are determined from experimental data and inter-
nal relationships (Mellor and Yamada, 1982; Janjic, 2001). In these equations, G
m
Column model documentation Draft 4
and G
h
represent the shear turbulence production term and the buoyancy produc-
tion/dissipation term respectively
G
m
=

2
M
q
2
_
_
_
u
z
_
2
+
_
v
z
_
2
_
_
, (14)
G
h
=

2
M
q
2
g
_

v
z
_
, (15)
where
v
is the virtual potential temperature calculated from

v
= (1 + 0.61q
v
) . (16)
is a constant equal to 1/273 and g is the gravitational acceleration (g = 9.8 m s
2
).
To close the set of equations describing the evolution of conditions in the boundary
layer, an expression form the master length scale and a prognostic equation for e
are required. The equation for e is written as a function of the variable q
d(q
2

M
)
dt


z
_

M
qS
q

z
_
q
2
2
__
= P
s
+ P
b
. (17)
The terms on the right-hand side represent the production of TKE by the wind
shear (P
s
), the production/dissipation by the eects of buoyancy (P
b
) and the viscous
dissipation (). These are expressed as
P
s
=
_
u

_
u
z

_
v

_
v
z
, (18)
P
b
= g
_
w

v
_
, (19)
=
q
3
(B
1

M
)
, (20)
where B
1
is a constant determined empirically.
The master length scale is considered as a diagnostic variable, determined from
the current state of the boundary layer. The length scale is determined with

M
=
0
kz
kz +
0
, (21)

0
=
H
pbl
_
0
|z|q dz
H
pbl
_
0
q dz
, (22)
where k is the von Karman constant (=0.4), is a constant set equal to 0.25 and H
pbl
is the height of the boundary layer. It is determined as the height at which the TKE
Column model documentation Draft 5
becomes lower than an arbitrary small value. Above the boundary layer, the master
length scale is set to a fraction of the model grid spacing (z) as in Mason (1989)

M
= 0.23. (23)
2.2 Land surface
As for the parameterization of boundary layer uxes, the PBL 1d model incorpo-
rates various land surface models (LSM). The NOAH LSM (Chen and Dudhia, 2001;
Ek et al., 2003) and the RUC LSM (Smirnova et al., 2000) incorporate multi-layer
representations of soil and vegetation canopy temperature and moisture, as well as
representations of snow covers. A simpler LSM uses the force-restore method (Black-
adar, 1979). The force-restore LSM is adopted here. It is believed that its greater
simplicity provides for more tractable results in the context of the study of the be-
havior of boundary layer and LSM coupled models. Furthermore, tests performed
by Pagowski et al. (2006) have shown that a better performance of the 1-d model
is obtained when this LSM is used in combination with any of the boundary layer
schemes.
The force-restore method was proposed by Bhumralkar (1975) and Blackadar
(1976) as a simpler approach to compute ground surface temperature without resort-
ing to the use of multiple soil levels. The methodology was extended to soil moisture
by Deardor (1977, 1978). A simple implementation of this method is available in
the model, in which the evolution of the skin surface temperature (T
sk
) is governed
by
C
g
T
sk
t
= R
n
F
h
F
q
F
s
(24)
where C
g
is the thermal capacity of the soil slab, and the terms on the right-hand
side represent the energy balance at the surface. R
n
is the net radiative ux at the
surface, F
h
is the sensible heat ux into the surface layer of the atmosphere, F
q
is
the latent heat ux and F
s
is the heat ux into the substrate. The rst three terms
represent diurnal atmospheric forcings on the ground surface temperature while H
s
tends to restore T
sk
toward a slow-varying deep soil temperature. It should be noted
that uxes are taken here as being positive when directed away from the ground
surface.
The thermal capacity of the substrate is determined from
C
g
= 0.95

_
_
C
s
2
_
, (25)
where is the angular velocity of the earth
=
2

, (26)
Column model documentation Draft 6
with being the diurnal time period. is the thermal conductivity of the substrate
and C
s
is its heat capacity per unit volume, both dependent on the type of substrate
and its water content.
The heat ux into the substrate is formulated as
F
s
= K
m
C
g
(T
sk
T
m
) (27)
where T
m
is a mean (slow-varying) temperature of the substrate, representative of the
temperature of a deep layer. K
m
is the heat transfer coecient taken as K
m
= 1.8.
The net radiative ux is equal to
R
n
= (1 ) SW +LW T
4
sk
, (28)
with SW is the downwelling shortwave (solar) radiation, IR is the longwave
(thermal) radiation, is the surface albedo, is the surface emissivity and is the
Stefan-Boltzmann constant. Values of SW and IR are obtained from radiative
transfer (RT) models. The expressions of H
c
and E are relegated to the next section,
as the coupling between the surface and the atmospheric boundary layer is performed
through these uxes.
The soil moisture content evolves in time following a single-layer bucket model.
This type of model is based on a simple water balance equation
dM
dt
= I (P Evp R) , (29)
where M is the available soil moisture, P is the rainfall rate, Evp is the rate of change
of the depth of water in the bucket due to evaporation and R is the runo rate. The
presence of snow on the ground is not accounted for in the model. The factor I
accounts for the fraction of water that does not inltrate deeper into the substrate
(is that true?). That factor is simply xed as I = 0.25.
Following the original bucket model formulation (Budyko, 1956), a xed portion
of precipitation is forced to run o immediately. This translates into
R = fP, (30)
with f taken to be 0.5 in the model. Evp is expressed as
Evp =
frac
_
1

w
F
q
L
100
2
_
, (...why div. by 2??) (31)
where
w
is the density of liquid water (1000 kg m
3
), (F
q
/L) is the kinematic ux of
water at the surface (in kg m
2
s
1
) and the factor of 100 is to transform the result
from m to cm.
frac
is a coecient acting as a limiting factor on the evaporation, de-
signed to alleviate the known positive bias in evaporation rates from bucket models(is
that right?). This coecient is dependent on the landuse category. After completing
the calculation of an updated M value, checks are made to verify that M is bounded
within minimum (M
min
) and maximum (M
max
) values, which are dependent on the
landuse category.
Column model documentation Draft 7
2.3 Atmospheric surface layer
The coupling between the ground surface and the atmosphere is done through uxes
between the surface and the lowest model level (surface layer). Instead of uxes
calculated with the mixing coecient expressed with equations 10 and 11, surface
fuxes are formulated on the basis of the Monin-Obukhov similarity theory (Monin
and Obukhov, 1954). In the WRF model, specic implementations of surface layer
schemes are available and each are designed to match a particular boundary layer
scheme. Here we describe the scheme associated with the MYJ boundary layer pa-
rameterization.
Common to all schemes however, the surface momentum, sensible and latent heat
uxes, in units of m
2
s
2
for momentum and W m
2
for the heat uxes, are expressed
as
F
m
= C
m
|

V
SL
|
2
, (32)
F
h
=
1
c
p
C
hq
(
sk

1
) , (33)
F
q
=
1
LC
hq
M (q
vsk
q
v1
) . (34)
In these equations,
sk
is the land-surface (skin) potential temperature, and
1
is the
potential temperature of the rst model level located at height z. Similarly, q
vsk
and
q
v1
are the water vapor mixing ratios at the surface and lowest model level respectively
(in units of kg kg
1
) and M is the surface moisture availability parameter. L is the
latent heat of vaporization,
1
is the air density in the lowest model layer and c
p
is
the heat capacity of the air. |

V
SL
| is the wind speed in the surface layer (wind at the
anemometer height)
|

V
SL
|
2
= u
2
+ v
2
(35)
C
m
is the exchange coecient for momentum and is expressed as
C
m
=
u
2

|

V
SL
|
2
. (36)
u

is the friction velocity and is expressed as


u

= |

V
SL
|
_

m
_
z
L
MO
_

m
_
z
0m
L
MO
_
+ ln
_
z
z
0m
__
1
, (37)
where
m
is the so-called similarity function for momentum, z
0m
is the surface rough-
ness length for momentum and is the von Karman constant. The convective velocity
scale is typically written
C
hq
is the exchange coecient valid for both heat and water vapor and is taken
as
C
hq
= u

h
_
z
L
MO
_

h
_
z
0T
L
MO
_
+ ln
_
z
z
0T
__
1
, (38)
Column model documentation Draft 8
where
h
is the similarity function for temperature. L
MO
is the Monin-Obukhov
length, z
0T
is the surface roughness length for temperature. The similarity stability
functions of Paulson (1970) are used for the unstable surface layer

m
= 2 ln
_
(1 + x)
2
_
ln
_
(1 + x
2
)
2
_
+ 2 arctan(x)

2
, (39)

h
= 2 ln
_
(1 + x
2
)
2
_
, (40)
with
x =
_
1
z
L
MO
_1
4
, (41)
where = 16. The relation of Holtslag and de Bruin (1988) is used in the stably
stratied surface layer (
h
=
m
is assumed in this case)

m
= a
z
L
MO
+ b
_
z
L
MO

c
d
_
exp
_
d
z
L
MO
_
+
bc
d
, (42)
with a = 0.7, b = 0.75, c = 5 and d = 0.35. The Monin-Obukhov length is
expressed as
L
MO
=

1
c
p

1
u
3

gF
h
. (43)
In order to avoid singularities in the free convective regime (vanishing wind speed
and therefore vanishing of u

), a correction on u

is applied following Beljaars (1995).


The intent is to convert a small portion of the surface buoyancy ux into kinetic
energy of random turbulent motions near the surface so that u

is never identically
equal to zero. This is done by considering the addition of a convective velocity scale
in the expression for the surface layer wind
|

V
SL
|
2
= u
2
+ v
2
+ w
2

, (44)
where is a constant taken equal to 1.2 and w

is the convective velocity scale


w

=
_
z
i
g

1
w

v
_
1/3
, (45)
where z
i
is the height of the boundary layer. The ux of virtual potential temperature
is decomposed as
w

v
= w

+ 0.61
v
w

v
, (46)
or in term of the surface uxes above
w

v
=
_
F
h

1
c
p
_
+ 0.61
v
_
F
q

1
L
_
. (47)
Column model documentation Draft 9
Finally, the roughness length for temperature is determined from the momentum
roughness length according to Zilitinkevich (1995)
z
0T
= z
0m
exp
_
c
z

Re
_
, (48)
where c
z
is an empirical constant (=0.1) and Re is the Reynolds number
Re = z
0m
u

, (49)
where is the molecular viscosity for momentum.
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Column model documentation Draft 10
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