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Boulard D.,CNRS Biogeosciences Laboratory | Castel T.,CNRS Biogeosciences Laboratory | Camberlin P.,CNRS Biogeosciences Laboratory | Sergent A.-S.,UMR 1137 Ecologie et Ecophysiologie Forestieres | And 5 more authors.
Climate Dynamics | Year: 2015

This paper documents the capability of the ARW/WRF regional climate model to regionalize near-surface atmospheric variables at high resolution (8 km) over Burgundy (northeastern France) from daily to interannual timescales. To that purpose, a 20-year continuous simulation (1989–2008) was carried out. The WRF model driven by ERA-Interim reanalyses was compared to in situ observations and a mesoscale atmospheric analyses system (SAFRAN) for five near-surface variables: precipitation, air temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and solar radiation, the last four variables being used for the calculation of potential evapotranspiration (ET0). Results show a significant improvement upon ERA-Interim. This is due to a good skill of the model to reproduce the spatial distribution for all weather variables, in spite of a slight over-estimation of precipitation amounts mostly during the summer convective season, and wind speed during winter. As compared to the Météo-France observations, WRF also improves upon SAFRAN analyses, which partly fail at showing realistic spatial distributions for wind speed, relative humidity and solar radiation—the latter being strongly underestimated. The SAFRAN ET0 is thus highly under-estimated too. WRF ET0 is in better agreement with observations. In order to evaluate WRF’s capability to simulate a reliable ET0, the water balance of thirty Douglas-fir stands was computed using a process-based model. Three soil water deficit indexes corresponding to the sum of the daily deviations between the relative extractible water and a critical value of 40 % below which the low soil water content affects tree growth, were calculated using the nearest weather station, SAFRAN analyses weather data, or by merging observation and WRF weather variables. Correlations between Douglas-fir growth and the three estimated soil water deficit indexes show similar results. These results showed through the ET0 estimation and the relation between mean annual SWDI and Douglas-fir growth index that the main difficulties of the WRF model to simulate soil water deficit is mainly attributable to its precipitation biases. In contrast, the low discrepancies between WRF and observations for air temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and solar radiation make then usable for the water balance and ET0 computation. © 2015 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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