Dynamical downscaling: Assessment of value retained and added using the Regional Atmopsheric Modeling System (RAMS)

Christopher L. Castro, Roger A. Pielke, Giovanni Leoncini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

288 Scopus citations


The value restored and added by dynamical downscaling is quantitatively evaluated by considering the spectral behavior of the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) in relation to its domain size and grid spacing. A regional climate model (RCM) simulation is compared with NCEP Reanalysis data regridded to the RAMS grid at each model analysis time for a set of six basic experiments. At large scales, RAMS underestimates atmospheric variability as determined by the column integrated kinetic energy and integrated moisture flux convergence. As the grid spacing increases or domain size increases, the underestimation of atmospheric variability at large scales worsens. The model simulated evolution of the kinetic energy relative to the reanalysis regridded kinetic energy exhibits a decrease with time, which is more pronounced with larger grid spacing. Additional follow-on experiments confirm that the surface boundary forcing is the dominant factor in generating atmospheric variability for small-scale features and that it exerts greater control on the RCM solution as the influence of lateral boundary conditions diminish. The sensitivity to surface forcing is also influenced by the model parameterizations, as demonstrated by using a different convection scheme. For the particular case considered, dynamical downscaling with RAMS in RCM mode does not retain value of the large scale which exists in the larger global reanalysis. The utility of the RCM, or value added, is to resolve the smaller-scale features which have a greater dependence on the surface boundary. This conclusion regarding RAMS is expected to be true for other RCMs as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research D: Atmospheres
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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