Analysis of WRF extreme daily precipitation over Alaska using self-organizing maps

Glisan, Justin
Gutowski, William
Cassano, John
Cassano, Elizabeth
Seefeldt, Mark
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue

We analyze daily precipitation extremes from simulations of a polar-optimized version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Simulations cover 19 years and use the Regional Arctic System Model (RASM) domain. We focus on Alaska because of its proximity to the Pacific and Arctic oceans; both provide large moisture fetch inland. Alaska's topography also has important impacts on orographically forced precipitation. We use self-organizing maps (SOMs) to understand circulation characteristics conducive for extreme precipitation events. The SOM algorithm employs an artificial neural network that uses an unsupervised training process, which results in finding general patterns of circulation behavior. The SOM is trained with mean sea level pressure (MSLP) anomalies. Widespread extreme events, defined as at least 25 grid points experiencing 99th percentile precipitation, are examined using SOMs. Widespread extreme days are mapped onto the SOM of MSLP anomalies, indicating circulation patterns. SOMs aid in determining high-frequency nodes, and hence, circulations are conducive to extremes. Multiple circulation patterns are responsible for extreme days, which are differentiated by where extreme events occur in Alaska. Additionally, several meteorological fields are composited for nodes accessed by extreme and nonextreme events to determine specific conditions necessary for a widespread extreme event. Individual and adjacent node composites produce more physically reasonable circulations as opposed to composites of all extremes, which include multiple synoptic regimes. Temporal evolution of extreme events is also traced through SOM space. Thus, this analysis lays the groundwork for diagnosing differences in atmospheric circulations and their associated widespread, extreme precipitation events.


This article is from Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 121 (2016): 7746-7761, doi:10.1002/2016JD024822. Posted with permission.

extremes, precipitation, self-organizing maps, regional climate model, WRF, high latitudes