Cold Season Performance of the NU-WRF Regional Climate Model in the Great Lakes Region

Michael Notaro, Yafang Zhong, Pengfei Xue, Christa Peters-Lidard, Carlos Cruz, Eric Kemp, David Kristovich, Mark Kulie, Junming Wang, Chenfu Huang, Stephen J. Vavrus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As Earth’s largest collection of freshwater, the Laurentian Great Lakes have enormous ecological and socioeconomic value. Their basin has become a regional hotspot of climatic and limnological change, potentially threatening its vital natural resources. Consequentially, there is a need to assess the current state of climate models regarding their performance across the Great Lakes region and develop the next generation of high-resolution regional climate models to address complex limnological processes and lake–atmosphere interactions. In response to this need, the current paper focuses on the generation and analysis of a 20-member ensemble of 3-km National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) simulations for the 2014/15 cold season. The study aims to identify the model’s strengths and weaknesses; optimal configuration for the region; and the impacts of different physics parameterizations, coupling to a 1D lake model, time-variant lake-surface temperatures, and spectral nudging. Several key biases are identified in the cold-season simulations for the Great Lakes region, including an atmospheric cold bias that is amplified by coupling to a 1D lake model but diminished by applying the Community Atmosphere Model radiation scheme and Morrison microphysics scheme; an excess precipitation bias; anomalously early initiation of fall lake turnover and subsequent cold lake bias; excessive and overly persistent lake ice cover; and insufficient evaporation over Lakes Superior and Huron. The research team is currently addressing these key limitations by coupling NU-WRF to a 3D lake model in support of the next generation of regional climate models for the critical Great Lakes Basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2423-2454
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Climate models
  • Climate variability
  • Inland seas/lakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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