MM5 Modeling System Overview

Brief Description

The PSU/NCAR mesoscale model is a limited-area, nonhydrostatic or hydrostatic (Version 2 only), terrain-following sigma-coordinate model designed to simulate or predict mesoscale and regional-scale atmospheric circulation. It has been developed at Penn State and NCAR as a community mesoscale model and is continuously being improved by contributions from users at several universities and government laboratories.

The Fifth-Generation NCAR / Penn State Mesoscale Model (MM5) is the latest in a series that developed from a mesoscale model used by Anthes at Penn State in the early 70's that was later documented by Anthes and Warner (1978). Since that time, it has undergone many changes designed to broaden its usage. These include (i) a multiple-nest capability, (ii) nonhydrostatic dynamics, which allows the model to be used at a few-kilometer scale, (iii) multitasking capability on shared- and distributed-memory machines, (iv) a four-dimensional data-assimilation capability, and (v) more physics options.

The model (known as MM5) is supported by several auxiliary programs, which are referred to collectively as the MM5 modeling system.

A schematic diagram (a pdf file, to be opened by Adobe Acrobat Reader) is provided to facilitate discussion of the complete modeling system. It is intended to show the order of the programs and the flow of the data, and to briefly describe their primary functions. Documentation for various programs in the modeling system is available online.

Terrestrial and isobaric meteorological data are horizontally interpolated (programs TERRAIN and REGRID) from a latitude-longitude mesh to a variable high-resolution domain on either a Mercator, Lambert conformal, or polar stereographic projection. Since the interpolation does not provide mesoscale detail, the interpolated data may be enhanced (program RAWINS or little_r) with observations from the standard network of surface and rawinsonde stations using either a successive-scan Cressman technique or multiquadric scheme. Program INTERPF performs the vertical interpolation from pressure levels to the sigma coordinate system of MM5. Sigma surfaces near the ground closely follow the terrain, and the higher-level sigma surfaces tend to approximate isobaric surfaces. Since the vertical and horizontal resolution and domain size are variable, the modeling package programs employ parameterized dimensions requiring a variable amount of core memory. Some peripheral storage devices are also used.

Since MM5 is a regional model, it requires an initial condition as well as lateral boundary condition to run. To produce lateral boundary condition for a model run, one needs gridded data to cover the entire time period that the model is integrated.

Current Release

The current release for the MM5 modeling system is Version 3. MM5 Version 2, or V2 is also available.

Features of the Modeling System

Program Functions

MM5 Model Physics Options

New Developments

There are several new developments that are either available for testing or underway.

Portability of the MM5 Modeling System

Level of Expertise the User Should Have

  1. The user should have some experience with numerical modeling of the atmosphere.
  2. The user should have an understanding of atmospheric science at the MS level.
  3. The user should have basic UNIX knowledge.
  4. The user should have basic FORTRAN 77 and 90 knowledge.
  5. No previous experience in the MM5 model is required. It is strongly recommended for a new user to learn MM5 modeling system program from the online tutorial, and attend a tutorial class, which is offerred twice a year.

Minimum Requirement for Running the Modeling System Software

Copyright � UCAR 1998 - Disclaimer -

Last Modified: June 14, 2000

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