Articles | Volume 17, issue 23
Research article
01 Dec 2017
Research article |  | 01 Dec 2017

Multifractal evaluation of simulated precipitation intensities from the COSMO NWP model

Daniel Wolfensberger, Auguste Gires, Ioulia Tchiguirinskaia, Daniel Schertzer, and Alexis Berne

Abstract. The framework of universal multifractals (UM) characterizes the spatio-temporal variability in geophysical data over a wide range of scales with only a limited number of scale-invariant parameters. This work aims to clarify the link between multifractals (MFs) and more conventional weather descriptors and to show how they can be used to perform a multi-scale evaluation of model data.

The first part of this work focuses on a MF analysis of the climatology of precipitation intensities simulated by the COSMO numerical weather prediction model. Analysis of the spatial structure of the MF parameters, and their correlations with external meteorological and topographical descriptors, reveals that simulated precipitation tends to be smoother at higher altitudes, and that the mean intermittency is mostly influenced by the latitude. A hierarchical clustering was performed on the external descriptors, yielding three different clusters, which correspond roughly to Alpine/continental, Mediterranean and temperate regions. Distributions of MF parameters within these three clusters are shown to be statistically significantly different, indicating that the MF signature of rain is indeed geographically dependent.

The second part of this work is event-based and focuses on the smaller scales. The MF parameters of precipitation intensities at the ground are compared with those obtained from the Swiss radar composite during three events corresponding to typical synoptic conditions over Switzerland. The results of this analysis show that the COSMO simulations exhibit spatial scaling breaks that are not present in the radar data, indicating that the model is not able to simulate the observed variability at all scales. A comparison of the operational one-moment microphysical parameterization scheme of COSMO with a more advanced two-moment scheme reveals that, while no scheme systematically outperforms the other, the two-moment scheme tends to produce larger extreme values and more discontinuous precipitation fields, which agree better with the radar composite.

Short summary
Precipitation intensities simulated by the COSMO weather prediction model are compared to radar observations over a range of spatial and temporal scales using the universal multifractal framework. Our results highlight the strong influence of meteorological and topographical features on the multifractal characteristics of precipitation. Moreover, the influence of the subgrid parameterizations of COSMO is clearly visible by a break in the scaling properties that is absent from the radar data.
Final-revised paper