WRF-Hydro Modeling System

WRF-Hydro Modeling System


Schematic of the modularized multiscale, multi-physics WRF-Hydro modeling framework.
Schematic of the modularized multiscale, multi-physics WRF-Hydro modeling framework.

Welcome to the user's page for the WRF-Hydro modeling system.  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).

The WRF-Hydro 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:

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


The NCAR 'WRF-Hydro' System

The Weather Research and Forecasting Model Hydrological modeling extension package (WRF-Hydro) is a new 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.  To support this goal, hydrometeorological scientists at NCAR, in collaboration with university researchers and federal agencies, have built an extensible, multi-scale coupling architecture to link weather and climate models with hydrological component models (figure below).  The system provides the capability to perform coupled and uncoupled multi-physics simulations and predictions of terrestrial water cycle processes on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.

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 values.

Designed to operate on the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) high-performance computing platforms, the WRF-Hydro system leverages many existing and emerging standards in data formats, pre-/post-processing workflows and parallel computing libraries.  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 is also adopting 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, a library of user 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.



The Community WRF-Hydro Modeling System Training Workshop

                                              October 17-19 2017

                          Location: NCAR Foothills Lab2 Boulder, CO USA

                          Early Bird Registration Deadline: August 15

                          Regular Registration Deadline: August 31

For more information and to register, visit the event website hosted by CUAHSI.

Class participants will receive in-depth training via lectures and hands-on activities on the implementation and use of the WRF-Hydro modeling system where all hands-on tutorial activities will be conducted in a formal computer laboratory located at NCAR.
Specific topics covered during the workshop will include:

  • Conceptualization and structure of the WRF-Hydro system
  • Description of physics components options within WRF-Hydro v4.0
  • Model porting and compilation and overview of parallel computing with WRF-Hydro
  • Model input data preparation
  • Model configuration and execution
  • Visualization and post-processing of model output
  • Case studies (participants will learn how to use the system in both one-way uncoupled and two-way coupled modes with the community WRF atmospheric model)
  • Setup and use of the open source Rwrfhydro hydrologic model evaluation package
  • Open discussion on class participant interests and applications

This product has a project page. See more details here.