Weather Simulation Uncertainty Estimation Using Bayesian Hierarchical Models

Jianfeng Wang*, Ricardo Fonseca, Kendall Rutledge, Javier Martin-Torres, Jun Yu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Estimates of the uncertainty of model output fields (e.g., 2-m temperature, surface radiation fluxes, or wind speed) are of great value to the weather and climate communities. The traditional approach for the uncertainty estimation is to conduct an ensemble of simulations where the model configuration is perturbed and/or different models are considered. This procedure is very computationally expensive and may not be feasible, in particular for higher-resolution experiments. In this paper, a new method based on Bayesian hierarchical models (BHMs) that requires just one model run is proposed. It is applied to the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model’s 2-m temperature in the Botnia–Atlantica region in Scandinavia for a 10-day period in the winter and summer seasons. For both seasons, the estimated uncertainty using the BHM is found to be comparable to that obtained from an ensemble of experiments in which different planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes are employed. While WRF-BHM is not capable of generating the full set of products obtained from an ensemble of simulations, it can be used to extract commonly used diagnostics including the uncertainty estimation that is the focus of this work. The methodology proposed here is fully general and can easily be extended to any other output variable and numerical model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-603
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number3
Early online date8 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

We acknowledge Botnia–Atlantica, an EU program financing cross-border cooperation projects in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, for their support of this work through the WindCoE project. We thank the High Performance Computing Center North (HPC2N) for providing the computer resources needed to perform the numerical experiments presented in this paper. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their detailed and insightful comments and suggestions that helped to improve the quality of the paper.


  • Aerospace Engineering
  • WRF
  • BHM


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