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Geography department partners on new weather model


Supercomputer model of eastern half of U.S. The WRF model output depicts low-level atmospheric humidity across the eastern U.S. during a period of unusual cold air invasion. The cold land with lower humidity is clearly distinguishable from warmer water bodies with higher humidity. Streamers of higher water content air along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and in the vicinity of the Great Lakes are evident.

Nov. 13, 2015 – A new player in weather simulation and forecasting is about to take the stage, as meteorology faculty and students in the Department of Geography work with Virginia Tech’s Advanced Research Computing group to establish a weather research and forecasting (WRF) model on the group’s BlueRidge supercomputer. The WRF model, which supports weather simulation for both forecasting and research, operates at finer resolutions than typical weather models such that it can incorporate local terrain and surface characteristics.

Using the department’s expertise in geospatial science, the goal is to incorporate GIS layers into the model’s weather output graphics — resulting in unique graphics that are not currently being produced elsewhere. Whether for forecasting or research, the WRF model offers improved detail and understanding of weather within the complex terrain of the Appalachian Mountains region. Once combined with software designed for cutting-edge graphical rendering of WRF output — a generous gift from the WSI division of The Weather Company — the Virginia Tech WRF model will serve as an aid to forecasters in the National Weather Service’s Blacksburg Forecast Office.

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