An evaluation of the performance of a WRF multi-physics ensemble for heatwave events over the city of Melbourne in southeast Australia

H. M. Imran, J. Kala, A. W.M. Ng, S. Muthukumaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Appropriate choice of physics options among many physics parameterizations is important when using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The responses of different physics parameterizations of the WRF model may vary due to geographical locations, the application of interest, and the temporal and spatial scales being investigated. Several studies have evaluated the performance of the WRF model in simulating the mean climate and extreme rainfall events for various regions in Australia. However, no study has explicitly evaluated the sensitivity of the WRF model in simulating heatwaves. Therefore, this study evaluates the performance of a WRF multi-physics ensemble that comprises 27 model configurations for a series of heatwave events in Melbourne, Australia. Unlike most previous studies, we not only evaluate temperature, but also wind speed and relative humidity, which are key factors influencing heatwave dynamics. No specific ensemble member for all events explicitly showed the best performance, for all the variables, considering all evaluation metrics. This study also found that the choice of planetary boundary layer (PBL) scheme had largest influence, the radiation scheme had moderate influence, and the microphysics scheme had the least influence on temperature simulations. The PBL and microphysics schemes were found to be more sensitive than the radiation scheme for wind speed and relative humidity. Additionally, the study tested the role of Urban Canopy Model (UCM) and three Land Surface Models (LSMs). Although the UCM did not play significant role, the Noah-LSM showed better performance than the CLM4 and NOAH-MP LSMs in simulating the heatwave events. The study finally identifies an optimal configuration of WRF that will be a useful modelling tool for further investigations of heatwaves in Melbourne. Although our results are invariably region-specific, our results will be useful to WRF users investigating heatwave dynamics elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2553-2586
Number of pages34
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'An evaluation of the performance of a WRF multi-physics ensemble for heatwave events over the city of Melbourne in southeast Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this