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Characteristics of high-resolution versions of the Met Office unified model for forecasting convection over the United Kingdom

American Meteorological Society
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With many operational centers moving toward order 1-km-gridlength models for routine weather forecasting, this paper presents a systematic investigation of the properties of high-resolution versions of the Met Office Unified Model for short-range forecasting of convective rainfall events. The authors describe a suite of configurations of the Met Office Unified Model running with grid lengths of 12, 4, and 1 km and analyze results from these models for a number of convective cases from the summers of 2003, 2004, and 2005. The analysis includes subjective evaluation of the rainfall fields and comparisons of rainfall amounts, initiation, cell statistics, and a scale-selective verification technique. It is shown that the 4- and 1-km-gridlength models often give more realistic-looking precipitation fields because convection is represented explicitly rather than parameterized. However, the 4-km model representation suffers from large convective cells and delayed initiation because the grid length is too long to correctly reproduce the convection explicitly. These problems are not as evident in the 1-km model, although it does suffer from too numerous small cells in some situations. Both the 4- and 1-km models suffer from poor representation at the start of the forecast in the period when the high-resolution detail is spinning up from the lower-resolution (12 km) starting data used. A scale-selective precipitation verification technique implies that for later times in the forecasts (after the spinup period) the 1-km model performs better than the 12- and 4-km models for lower rainfall thresholds. For higher thresholds the 4-km model scores almost as well as the 1-km model, and both do better than the 12-km model.

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