H81 Department Wasser-Atmosphäre-Umwelt H81 Department Water, Atmosphere and Environment  H814 Institute of Meteorology Environmental Meteorology HIRMOD Project

HIRMOD - High-Resolution Atmospheric Modelling in Complex Terrain for Future Climate Simulations

Hirmod Logo

Staff: Petra Seibert, Irene Schicker, Dèlia Arnold


The creation of climate change scenarios at a resolution on the scale of 1 km or better in mountainous terrain is an unsolved  problem even though impact studies urgently need this. HIRMOD prepares for the time in the near future  when computers will be powerful enough to accomplish this aim by dynamical downscaling with nonhydrostatic models. Two such models, MM5 and WRF, which have already produced realistic results at such high resolution in the Alps, will be improved for some key features (digital elevation and land­use data, initialisation, etc.). Then, systematic tests with episodic simulations will be carried out to determine the optimum set­up in terms of horizontal and vertical resolution, domains, and  physical parameterisations. Results will be compared with station data, remote sensing data, and coarse regional climate model output, and used in transport simulations with FLEXPART to provide further validation with observed concentrations of radon and other trace gases at mountain stations.

Studies will be carried out for episodes representing a selection of key weather patterns:

These simulations will focus on three complex topographical areas of interest, where we have previous modelling experience. These will be

Klimafonds LogoThis project is funded by "Klima- und Energiefonds".

External experts:

The HIRMOD project is being accompanied a group of external experts with long-standing experience in high-resolution modelling and mountain meteorology to foster relevant contacts to other, mainly international, groups. Through workshops held during the course of the project, the methods, aims and results will be discussed with the experts.

Dr. Danijel Belusic
Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb (Croatia)
Competences: atmospheric processes over complex terrain, downslope windstorms, turbulence, low wind speeds, meandering

Dr. Jürg Schmidli
Institut für Atmosphäre und Klima , Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, ETH (Switzerland)
Competences:  thermally-induced flows, turbulence and exchange in complex terrain, high-resolution modeling of summertime convection, numerical methods in atmospheric and climate model

Dr. Silvia Trini Castelli
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council (CNR), Torino (Italy)
Competences: numerical modelling of atmospheric circulation, transport and pollutant dispersion, in particular over complex terrain, at various scales, from the long range to the meso- and micro-scale

Dr. Yong Wang
Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, ZAMG, Vienna (Austria)
Competences: mesoscale modelling, data assimilation, predictability

Priv.Doz. Dr. Günther Zängl
Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD (Offenbach, Germany)
Competences: mountain flow dynamics, orographic precipitation, high-resolution numerical modeling, model develmopment (numerics, dynamical cores)


1st Workshop with external experts, Vienna, 1-2 February 2010.

2nd Workshop with external experts, Vienna, 25 January 2011.

High Resolution modelling in Complex Terrain (HiRCoT) Workshop, Vienna, February, 2012.

Related Links:

HIRMOD entry in BOKU research information system FIS

Vienna Scientific Cluster VSC

Weather activities at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center

Earth sciences in the Barcelona Supercomputing Center

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model

The PSU/NCAR mesoscale model (MM5)



User-oriented WRF Benchmarking collection

Together with the the University of Alaska's Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC), a collection of WRF benchmark cases has been created, which is ready to use for the WRF modeling community. The idea behind this effort is that users are often interested in determining how much their particular model set up will cost, from a computational perspective. This information will influence decisions in setting up model domains for operational and research WRF simulations, along with aiding in decisions related to necessary hardware and software resources for various model configurations. Benchmark cases available comprise large, multi-domain set-ups for Europe and for Alaska, allowing a more realistic evaluation of computational resources and efficiences for this type of problems.