WRF-Hydro Modeling System

Overview

Overview

Welcome

Conceptual diagram of WRF-Hydro components
Conceptual diagram of WRF-Hydro components

The Weather Research and Forecasting Model Hydrological modeling system (WRF-Hydro) is a community-based model coupling framework designed to link multi-scale process models of the atmosphere and terrestrial hydrology. 

The underlying goal of WRF-Hydro development is to improve prediction skill of hydrometeorological forecasts using science-based numerical prediction tools. 

The WRF-Hydro modeling system was originally designed as a model coupling framework designed to facilitate easier coupling between the Weather Research and Forecasting model and components of terrestrial hydrological models.  WRF-Hydro is both a stand-alone hydrological modeling architecture as well as a coupling architecture for coupling of hydrological models with atmospheric models.  WRF-Hydro is fully-parallelized to enable its usage on clusters and high performance computing systems alike.

Like the WRF model it does not attempt to prescribe a particular or singular suite of physics but, instead, is designed to be extensible to new hydrological parameterizations.  Although it was originally designed to be used within the WRF model, it has evolved over time to possess many additional attributes as follows:

Schematic of the modularized multiscale, multi-physics WRF-Hydro modeling framework.
Schematic of the modularized multiscale, multi-physics WRF-Hydro modeling framework.
  • Multi-scale functionality to permit modeling of atmospheric, land surface and hydrological processes on different spatial grids
  • Modularized component model coupling interfaces for many typical terrestrial hydrological processes such as surface runoff, channel flow, lake/reservoir flow, sub-surface flow, land-atmosphere exchanges
  • Parallel code development for application on commodity cluster and higher performance computing systems
  • Stand-alone capabilities for hydrological prediction and research uncoupled to atmospheric models
  • Efficient coupling architecture so that it can be embedded within (or coupled to) other types of Earth system models such as the NCAR Community Earth System Model (CESM) or the NASA Land Information System (LIS)
  • Utilization of many standard data formats for efficient job construction and evaluation
  • Pre-/post-processing workflows

The architecture is intended to significantly simplify the often laborious task of integrating, or coupling, existing and emerging hydrological models into the WRF modeling framework.  In doing so, an extensible, portable and scalable environment for hypothesis testing, sensitivity analysis, data assimilation and environmental prediction has emerged. 

The WRF-Hydro system has adopted a ‘community-based’ development processes with an open and participatory working group environment.  NCAR in collaboration with other NSF and university entities are developing a support structure for WRF-Hydro in the way of model documentation, public, online code repositories, test cases and many pre- and post-processing utilities.

The WRF-Hydro system has been applied for a wide range of research and operational prediction problems both in the U.S. and abroad.  Specific past projects include flash flood prediction, regional hydroclimate impacts assessment, seasonal forecasting of water resources and land-atmosphere coupling studies. An important aspect of WRF-Hydro system has been serving as the core model for the new National Water Model.

Simulated streamflow for a flash flood event in Denver, Colorado during the summer of 2008. Red colored numbers indicate high streamflow values, blue indicates low flow values.
Simulated streamflow for a flash flood event in Denver, Colorado during the summer of 2008. Red colored numbers indicate high streamflow values, blue indicates low flow value.

The WRF-Hydro modeling system has been developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and its research partners through the generous support of the U.S. National Science Foundation and through research projects supported by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).