Sensitivity of WRF Cloud Microphysics to Simulations of a Convective Storm Over the Nepal Himalayas

Rudra K. Shrestha1, *, Paul J. Connolly2, Martin W. Gallagher2
1 Canadian Center for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
2 Center for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

© 2017 Shrestha et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Canadian Center for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma), Environment and Climate Change Canada, 3800 Finnerty Road, Victoria BC V8P 5C2, Canada; Tel: +1 7786761974; E-mail:



This paper investigates sensitivity of bulk microphysical parameterization (BMP) schemes within the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to simulate a convective storm that generally evolves during pre-monsoon season (March – May) across the foothills of the Himalayas.


Four mixed-phase BMP schemes (Morrison, Lin, WDM6, and WSM6), which are parameterized with an increasing complexity from single to double moments of particle distribution to represent cloud processes, are used with an explicit convection permitting grid resolution (3 km x 3 km). Experiments are set up to simulate a convective storm that occurred in the late afternoon of 18th May 2011 and compared with i) Satellite-based tropical rainfall measuring mission (TRMM) 3B42 v7 data, and ii) Ground-based observations at Nagarkot (27.7°N, 85.5°E), Nepal.


Our results show that the simulated storm characteristics are not overly sensitive to the chosen BMP schemes. In general, all the BMP schemes produce similar rainfall characteristics and compares reasonably well with the observations across Siwalik Hills and Middle Mountains, which act as a topographic barrier to low level circulations and receive more rain. The schemes, however, show negative bias across central Nepal including the Kathmandu Valley, albeit the magnitude and spatial distribution of bias are different between the schemes. In contrast, upper level total water condensate and cloud fraction show a strong sensitivity to the BMP schemes.


Overall, the Morrison scheme, in addition to warm clouds which also predict double moment distribution of all hydrometeors in the cold-cloud processes, a dominant cloud forming process in the Himalayas, accurately represents the mechanism and outperforms the simplified schemes based on root mean square error (RMSE) analysis.

Keywords: Himalayas, Cloud microphysics, Sensitivity analysis, Complex terrain, Nepal.