Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 133, Issue 3–4, pp 829–849 | Cite as

High-resolution long-term WRF climate simulations over Volta Basin. Part 1: validation analysis for temperature and precipitation

  • Thompson AnnorEmail author
  • Benjamin Lamptey
  • Sven Wagner
  • Philip Oguntunde
  • Joël Arnault
  • Dominikus Heinzeller
  • Harald Kunstmann
Original Paper


A 26-year simulation (1980–2005) was performed with the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model over the Volta Basin in West Africa. This was to investigate the ability of a climate version of WRF to reproduce present day temperature and precipitation over the Volta Basin. The ERA-Interim reanalysis and one realization of the ECHAM6 global circulation model (GCM) data were dynamically downscaled using two nested domains within the WRF model. The outer domain had a horizontal resolution of 50 km and covered the whole of West Africa while the inner domain had a horizontal resolution of 10 km. It was observed that biases in the respective forcing data were carried over to the RCM, but also the RCM itself contributed to the mean bias of the model. Also, the biases in the 50-km domain were transferred unchanged, especially in the case of temperature, to the 10-km domain, but, for precipitation, the higher-resolution simulations increased the mean bias in some cases. While in general, WRF underestimated temperature in both the outer (mean biases of −1.6 and −2.3 K for ERA-Interim and ECHAM6, respectively) and the inner (mean biases of −0.9 K for the reanalysis and −1.8 K for the GCM) domains, WRF slightly underestimated precipitation in the coarser domain but overestimated precipitation in the finer domain over the Volta Basin. The performance of the GCM, in general, is good, particularly for temperature with mean bias of −0.7 K over the outer domain. However, for precipitation, the added value of the RCM cannot be overlooked, especially over the whole West African region on the annual time scale (mean biases of −3% for WRF and −8% for ECHAM6). Over the whole Volta Basin and the Soudano-Sahel for the month of April and spring (MAM) rainfall, respectively, mean bias close to 0% was simulated. Biases in the interannual variability in both temperature and precipitation over the basin were smaller in the WRF than the ECHAM6. High spatial pattern correlations between 0.7 and 0.8 were achieved for the autumn precipitation and low spatial correlation in the range of 0.0 and 0.2 for the winter season precipitation over the whole basin and all the three belts over the basin.


High resolution Validation Regional climate modeling Volta Basin WRF Temperature Precipitation 



This study was financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) project. We gratefully acknowledge the funding of the work. The authors are thankful to staff members of the German Climate Centre (DKRZ) and the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU) for, respectively, providing high performance computing facilities and other important tools that were used to perform this regional climate simulation with the WRF model. We appreciate the contributions of the WRF community for the provision of the WRF codes, Maxwell Planck’s Institute (MPI), and the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) for providing the forcing data. We acknowledge the usefulness of the observed gridded temperature data from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) and precipitation from the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre (GPCC), Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsKwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)KumasiGhana
  2. 2.Federal University of TechnologyAkureNigeria
  3. 3.African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD)NiameyNiger
  4. 4.Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate ResearchAtmospheric Environmental ResearchGarmisch-PartenkirchenGermany
  5. 5.University of AugsburgAugsburgGermany

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