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Scale-selective verification of rainfall accumulations from high-resolution forecasts of convective events

Roberts, N. M. and Lean, H. W. (2008) Scale-selective verification of rainfall accumulations from high-resolution forecasts of convective events. Monthly Weather Review, 136 (1). pp. 78-97. ISSN 0027-0644

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2007MWR2123.1


The development of NWP models with grid spacing down to 1 km should produce more realistic forecasts of convective storms. However, greater realism does not necessarily mean more accurate precipitation forecasts. The rapid growth of errors on small scales in conjunction with preexisting errors on larger scales may limit the usefulness of such models. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether improved model resolution alone is able to produce more skillful precipitation forecasts on useful scales, and how the skill varies with spatial scale. A verification method will be described in which skill is determined from a comparison of rainfall forecasts with radar using fractional coverage over different sized areas. The Met Office Unified Model was run with grid spacings of 12, 4, and 1 km for 10 days in which convection occurred during the summers of 2003 and 2004. All forecasts were run from 12-km initial states for a clean comparison. The results show that the 1-km model was the most skillful over all but the smallest scales (approximately <10–15 km). A measure of acceptable skill was defined; this was attained by the 1-km model at scales around 40–70 km, some 10–20 km less than that of the 12-km model. The biggest improvement occurred for heavier, more localized rain, despite it being more difficult to predict. The 4-km model did not improve much on the 12-km model because of the difficulties of representing convection at that resolution, which was accentuated by the spinup from 12-km fields.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:31220
Publisher:American Meteorological Society
Publisher Statement:© Copyright 2008 of the American Meteorological Society. The AMS Copyright Policy is available on the AMS web site at


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