Evaluation of the Performance of the WRF Model in a Hyper-Arid Environment: A Sensitivity Study

Rachid Abida, Yacine Addad, Diana Francis, Marouane Temimi, Narendra Nelli, Ricardo Fonseca, Oleksandr Nesterov, Emmanuel Bosc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Accurate simulation of boundary layer surface meteorological parameters is essential to achieve good forecasting of weather and atmospheric dispersion. This paper is devoted to a model sensitivity study over a coastal hyper-arid region in the western desert of the United Arab Emirates. This region hosts the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), making it vital to correctly simulate local weather conditions for emergency response in case of an accidental release. We conducted a series of high-resolution WRF model simulations using different combinations of physical schemes for the months January 2019 and June 2019. The simulated results were verified against in-situ meteorological surface measurements available offshore, nearshore, and inland at 12 stations. Several statistical metrics were calculated to rank the performance of the different simulations and a near-to-optimal set of physics options that enhance the performance of a WRF model over different locations in this region has been selected. Additionally, we found that the WRF model performed better in inland locations compared to offshore or nearshore locations, suggesting the important role of dynamical SSTs in mesoscale models. Moreover, morning periods were better simulated than evening ones. The impact of nudging towards station observations resulted in an overall reduction in model errors by 5–15%, which was more marked at offshore and nearshore locations. The sensitivity to grid cell resolution indicated that a spatial resolution of 1 km led to better performance compared to coarser spatial resolutions, highlighting the advantage of high-resolution simulations in which the mesoscale coastal circulation is better resolved.

Original languageBritish English
Article number985
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Barakah nuclear power plant
  • hyper-arid region
  • physical parametrizations
  • station nudging
  • statistical evaluation
  • WRF model


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