The Polar WRF

Statistics on Registered PWRF 3.5.1, 3.4.1 and 3.3.1 users as of March 4, 2014

  • 27 countries including USA
  • 95 International users
  • 43 US users outside of OSU

News: February 24, 2014: PWRF 3.5.1 now available

Polar WRF 3.5 was tested with Arctic simulations for 1998 and 2012. The results are in a manuscript submitted to Monthly Weather Review. See Hines et al. (2014) below. The updated version 3.5.1 has also been tested and shown to produce results very similar to 3.5. Polar WRF version 3.5.1 was sent to registered users on February 24, 2014. Future plans include updating Polar WRF for WRF version 3.6 and providing time-dependent data sets of sea ice concentration, sea ice thickness, snow depth on sea ice, and Arctic sea ice albedo through this website. These sea ice fields can be processed through the WRF preprocessing program metgrid into WRF sea surface fields. WRF 3.5/3.5.1 are compatible with these sea ice fields, however, gridded time and space-depedent fields of sea ice thickness, snow cover and albedo have not been easily obtainable by numerical weather prediction community.


Based on extensive experience with mesoscale modeling in the polar regions by the Polar Meteorology Group of the Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University, the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) has been modified for use in the Polar Regions (referred to as the Polar WRF). A development approach is adopted similar to that used previously to implement the Polar version of the PSU/NCAR fifth generation mesoscale model (Polar MM5). The key modifications for Polar WRF are:

Testing of Polar WRF over Arctic and Antarctic surfaces provides guidance on best choice of physics options. See the publications for guidance.

Model evaluations through Polar WRF simulations over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA site) have been performed, and the results are described in the articles provided below. Development studies have been performed for Arctic land (ARM sites in Alaska), and Antarctica.

Polar WRF is used by forecasters as part of the National Science Foundation sponsored Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS; link provided below) to meet the operational and logistic needs of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). Under a collaborative project with the Polar Meteorology Group, AMPS simulations are performed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research twice per day (00Z and 12Z initializations), and cover progressively finer domains ranging from 45-km (covering most of the Southern Hemisphere) to 1.7-km (covering the region immediately surrounding McMurdo Station, the base of USAP operations). A 45-km resolution version of the Polar WRF is run here at the Byrd Polar Research Center twice per day for 5 days.

Status of Polar WRF:

Disclaimer: Polar WRF code is released and supported solely by the PMG and is currently based on standard WRF version (released November 2008), WRF version 3.1.1 (released July 2009), WRF version 3.2.1 (released August 23, 2010), or WRF version 3.3.1 (released September 2011) or WRF version 3.4.1 (released August 2012); contact Dr. David Bromwich for details. The Polar WRF code cannot be guaranteed to work under all circumstances, so feedback will help iron out any remaining kinks. We will provide assistance with code use to the level consistent with our ongoing responsibilities.

October 18, 2012

WRF Model Version 3.4.1 was released by NCAR on August 16, 2012. The most recent polar modifications (primarily sea ice related) have been ported to WRF 3.4.1 and the resulting code run through a series of validation tests - this is Polar WRF 3.4.1 that is NOW available to the scientific community.

May, 2012:

Extensive testing of Polar WRF including version 3.3.1 in Antarctica completed. See Bromwich et al. (2013) below.

November 2, 2011:

Polar WRF 3.3.1 is available. Tested for limited periods over Greenland, Arctic Ocean, and Alaska.

April 25, 2011:

WRF 3.3 was released to the community by NCAR on April 6, 2011. The Polar Meteorology Group will port all polar modifications to this release and provide a tar file of changes to interested users. Release date of Polar WRF 3.3 is yet to be decided. A suite of test simulations for Arctic sea ice (SHEBA case), the Greenland Ice Sheet, and Antarctic will be performed to verify the reliability of the modified codes.

August 23, 2010 : Polar WRF 3.2.1 is available:

WRF 3.2 was released to the community by NCAR on April 2, 2010. The Polar Meteorology Group has ported all polar modifications to this release and provides a tar file of changes to interested users as of August 2010. A suite of test simulations for Arctic sea ice (SHEBA case), the Greenland Ice Sheet, and Antarctic are performed to verify the reliability of the modified codes.

The modifications to WRF code for polar applications are available upon request from the Polar Meteorology Group to interested researchers.

October 5, 2009: Polar WRF 3.1.1 is available:

WRF Version 3.1.1 was released by NCAR on July 31, 2009 with fractional sea ice now as a standard option in the downloadable code from NCAR. The Polar WRF modifications have now been updated for WRF 3.1.1 as of October 5, 2009. Important new features include the posibility of variable specified sea ice thickness and variable specified snow depth on sea ice. These features have been added in preparation for the Arctic System Reanalysis. Users should expect colder Arctic near-surface atmospheric temperatures and reduced ground heat flux. If you are still using WRF, with that previous upgrade in that standard release the Morrison mixed-phase microphysics (developed especially for Arctic stratus clouds and tested by Bromwich et al. [2009]) became a standard option. All other polar physics for WRF 2.2 was implemented into WRF, and the modified code was tested fairly extensively. The fractional sea ice description developed by the Polar Meteorology Group (PMG; Le-Sheng Bai and Keith Hines) has been ported to the surface driver included in WRF, as well as the modifications to the NOAH LSM required for ice sheets, as described by Hines and Bromwich (2008).

April 9, 2009

WRF 3.1 has been released to the community by NCAR. The fractional sea ice developed by the Polar Meteorology Group is now a standard option within WRF. To use fractional sea ice set the "fractional_seaice" option to 1 in the WRF runtime namelist. Also, set the WPS initialization to ensure that the correct fractional sea ice data values (variable name SEAICE, it's best to include it in the metgrid variable table) are input to your model run. This is a contribution to the International Polar Year (March 2007-March 2009).

September 17, 2009

The full polar physics used with WRF is being ported into a publicly-available modifications tar file for use with the most recent version of WRF, version 3.1.1. This will include the modified surface energy balance over permanent ice sheets, and modified heat transfer within permanent ice. New additions to the Noah LSM will be variable thickness of sea ice and variable snow cover on sea ice. Expected availability of Polar WRF 3.1.1 tar file is late September/early October 2009.

Future for Polar WRF: Polar WRF is a research modification of the standard WRF code and new capabilities will continue to be added. The polar capabilities in standard WRF will likely lag behind those available in the Polar WRF code from the Polar Meteorology Group (not necessarily supported by NCAR). The goals for the next phase of Polar WRF development target more detailed specified sea-ice description within the NOAH LSM, including variable ice thickness and surface albedo, along with a representation of Arctic melt ponds.

Testing of Polar WRF:

by the Polar Meteorology Group for representative polar environments

Polar WRF Users:

Based upon request, Polar WRF has been sent to the following individuals:

  • Aas, Kjetil Schanke, Oslo, Norway
  • Abu Hamdan, Raed, AIU, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Adams, Manda, University of North Carolina Charlotte
  • Alexeev, Vladimir, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
  • Ahn, Kwang-Deuk, National Institute of Meteorological Research, Seoul, South Korea
  • Aniskina, Olga, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Baek, Eun-Hyuk, Ansan, South Korea
  • Bai, Xuezhi, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Barlage, Michael, NCAR
  • Barodka, Siarhei, Minsk, Belarus
  • Barton, Neal, University of Delaware
  • Bitz, Cecilia, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Brashers, Bart, ENVIRON International Corporation
  • Cassano, John, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  • Cavallo, Steven Cavallo, NCAR, Boulder, CO
  • Chao, Sun, Lan Zhou, China
  • Chaudhuri, Chiranjib, Kanpur, India
  • Chechin, Dmitry, Russia
  • Chen, Hans, Penn State University, University Park, PA
  • Cheeseman, Mark, NIWA, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Childs, Peter, AirDat, Morrisville, NC
  • Choi, Reno, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • Claremar, Björn, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  • Clow, Gary, USGS, Lakewood, CO
  • d'Orgeville, Marc, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • Dale, Tony, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Dallafior, Tanja, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Davies, Rhiannon, Norwich, United Kingdom
  • Demchev, Denis, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Di Paola, Francesco, Tito, Italy
  • Ding, Minghu, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Bejing, China
  • Disch, Heinz, Anchorage, AK
  • Effertz, Peter, Ames, IA
  • Ellis, Marikate, Atmospheric and Environmental Research
  • Fairless, Christopher, School of Earth Atmosphere and Environmental Sciences, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Fast, Jerome, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Falvey, Mark, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • Finkelnburg, Roman, Technische Universitaet Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • Fisel, Brandon, Iowa State University
  • Flores, Alejandro, Boise State, Boise, ID
  • Fuelberg, Henry, Florida State University
  • Gadelha, Alexandre, Niteroi, Brazil
  • Gankhuyag, Batjargal, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Gao, Z. T., Sina, Changchun, China
  • George, Steve, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Giordano, Christophe, Nice, France
  • Gready, Ben, University of Alberta
  • Grosvenor, Daniel, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Grumbine, Robert, National Centers for Environmental Prediction
  • Hahn, Robert, Seattle, WA
  • Haines, Skylar, University of Maine, Orono, ME
  • Hara, Masayuki, Yokohama, Japan
  • Harshan, Suraj, Texas Tech University
  • Havas, Michael, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Heinrich, Philippe, Arpajon, France
  • Henderson, John, Lexington, MA
  • Heo, Ki-Young, Ansan, South Korea
  • Herman, Agnieszka, Gdynia, Poland
  • Higgins, Matthew, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  • Hodnebrog, Oivind, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Hosking, Scott, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Hryniw, Natalia, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Jorgetti Fernandes, Tatiana, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Jun, San-Yoon, Seoul National University, South Korea
  • K, Satheesan, Vasco, India
  • Kang, Daehyun, Ulsan, South Korea
  • Kapnick, Sarah, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Karmosky, Chris, Penn State University
  • Keiderling, Stefan, Bergen, Norway
  • Klekociuk, Andrew, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston TAS, Australia
  • Kilpelainen, Tiina, Helsinki, Finland
  • Kim, Hyeong-Seog, Korea Maritime and Ocean University, Busan, South Korea
  • Kim, Seung Hee, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
  • Kolstad, Erik, Bergen, Norway
  • Kindig, Dave, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO
  • Klausmann, Alfred, Natick, MA
  • Knievel, Jason, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
  • Kolstad, Erik, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Norway
  • Kristjansson, Jon Egill, Oslo, Norway
  • Krupchatnikoff, Vladimir, Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics, Russia
  • Krupchatnikov, Vladimir, Siberian Research Hydrometeorological Institute, Novosibirsk, Russia
  • Kumar, Anupam, Indian Meteorological Departmenta, India
  • Kumar, Prashant, Ahmedabad, India
  • Lachlan-Cope, Tom, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Lang, Charlotte, Chievres, Belgique
  • Lapo, Palina, BSU, Minsk, Belarus
  • Liao, Qinghai, LACS, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Beijing, China
  • Limpasuvan, Varavut, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC
  • Lindsay, Ron, Polar Science Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Liu, Xiying, Nanjing, China
  • Liu, Zheng, Polar Science Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Long, Zhenxia, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Canada
  • Losic, Mira, Rutgers University
  • Ma, Po-Lun, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Ma, Yongfeng, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, China
  • Manning, Kevin, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
  • Masaru, Chiba, Tsukuba, Japan
  • Meyer, Jonathan, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • Mayer, Stephanie, University of Bergen, Norway
  • Min, Zhang, Lan Zhou, China
  • Molthan, Andrew, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL
  • Morrison, Hugh, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Mostamandy, Soleiman, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Noble, Erik, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY
  • Norton, Parker, USGS
  • Ohman, Karin, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Oltmanns, Marilena, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA
  • Orr, Andrew, British Antarctic Survey, United Kingdom
  • Oshima, Kazuhiro, Kyoto, Japan
  • Oza, Sandip R., Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, India
  • Panteleev, Gleb, IARC, Fairbanks, AK
  • Parish, Thomas, University of Wyoming
  • Pitcher, Lincoln, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
  • Porter, David, University of Colorado
  • Powers, Jordan, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
  • Quintanar, Arturo, Montreal, Canada
  • Rajkumar, Kamaljit, ISRO, Ahmedabad, India
  • Raut, Jean-Christophe, Université Paris, Paris, France
  • Ren, Diandong, University of Texas
  • Reusch, David, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM
  • Rhines, Robert, Plymouth, NH
  • Robock, Alan, Rutgers University
  • Roh, Joon-Woo, Seoul, South Korea
  • Rocha, Maria Joao, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • Rousset, Clement, Paris, France
  • Ruman, Caio, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Sacré, Bernard, University of Liege, Belgium
  • Safronov, Alex, Moscow, Russia
  • Sateesh, Masabhathini, IMD, New Delhi, India
  • Seefeldt, Mark, Providence College
  • Sessions, Walter, Florida State University
  • Sheaffer, Patti, Redondo Beach, CA
  • Sheeba, N. C., University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Seo, Hyodae, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA
  • Smith, Victoria, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • Soltanzadeh, Iman, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Son, Jeong Ock, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea
  • Song, Mirong, Chinese Academy of Scoences, Beijing, China
  • Song, Yongjia, Georgia Tech
  • Steeneveld, Gert-Jan, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • Stenmark, Aurora, Bergen, Norway
  • Sterk, Marina, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • Stevens, Bruce, Environmental Sciences Research Center, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, CA
  • Stofferahn, Eric, George Mason, Fairfax, VA
  • Stroh, Jake, International Arctic Research Center, Fairbanks, AK
  • Subramaniam, Kumarenthiran, Malaysian Meteorological Department
  • Sui, Cui Juan, National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Beijing, China
  • Sun, Qizhen, Beijing, China
  • Suzuki, Kazuyoshi, Yokohama, Japan
  • Tan, Qian, Goddard Earth Sciences & Technology Center, University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • Tastula, Esa-Matti, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Tobase, Yo, Fukuoka, Japan
  • Tsukernik, Maria, Brown University, Providence, MA
  • Valkonen, Teresa, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Verezemskaya, Polina, Moscow, Russia
  • Veron, Dana, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
  • Vincent, Claire Louise, Roskilde, Denmark
  • Vihma, Timo, Finnish Meteorological Institute
  • Volz, Karl, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
  • Wacker, Ulrike, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • Wagner, Johannes, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • Wang, Chenghai, Lan Zhou, China
  • Wang, Keguang, Tromo, Norway
  • Wang, Xianqiao, Beijing, China
  • Wang, Yetang, Yantai, China
  • Wee, Tae-Kwon, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
  • Weiss, Alexandra, BAS, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Weng, Yonghui, Penn State University, University Park, PA
  • Wijaya, Aristyo, Bandung Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia
  • Xian, Yz, National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center, Beijing, China
  • Xiao, Chuliang, NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Xu, Li, La Jolla, CA
  • Yamashita, Chihoko, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  • Yang, Ahryeon, KOPRI, Inchen, South Korea
  • Yang, Yuekui, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD
  • Yao, Yao, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • Zawar-Reza, Peyman, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Zhang, Jing, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
  • Zhang, Tao, Nanjing, China
  • Zhang, Yunfei, Beijing, China
  • Zhao, Biao, Beijing, China
  • Zhao, Ming, University of Wyoming
  • Ziemer, Corinna, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

    If you would like to use Polar WRF, please fill out our registration form to obtain the source code.

    Final thoughts:

    Watch this location for further updates that will be issued when needed. We appreciate your interest and trust you will acknowledge our efforts on behalf of the scientific community in presentations and publications. Please keep us informed as to manuscripts on Polar WRF so that we can maintain an online archive of relevant publications. Research supported by US federal funding, primarily from the National Science Foundation.

    Last updated: March 4, 2014


  • Tilinina, N., S. K. Gulev, and D. H. Bromwich, 2014: New view of Arctic cyclone activity from the Arctic System Reanalysis. Geophys. Res. Letts., doi: 0.1002/2013gl058924, accepted.

  • Hines, K. M., D. H. Bromwich, L. Bai, C. M. Bitz, J. G. Powers, and K. W. Manning, 2014: Sea ice enhancements to Polar WRF. Mon. Wea. Rev., in review. Full Text (PDF)

  • Seo, H., and J. Yang, 2013: Dynamical response of the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer process to uncertainties in sea-ice concentration. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 12,383-12,402, doi: 10.1002/2013JD02031.

  • Steinhoff, D. F., D. H. Bromwich, and A. J. Monaghan, 2013: Dynamics of the foehn mechanism in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica from Polar WRF. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc., 139, 1615-1631, doi: 10.1002/qj.2038. Full Text (PDF)

  • Bromwich, D. H., F. O. Otieno, K. M. Hines, K. W. Manning, and E. Shilo, 2013: Comprehensive evaluation of polar weather research and ofrecasting performance in the Antarctic. J. Geophys. Res., 118, 274-292, doi: 10.1029/2012JD018139. Full Text (PDF)

  • Kumar, A., S. K. R. Bhowmik, and A. K. Das, 2012: Implementation of Polar WRF for short range prediction of weather over Maitri region in Antarctica. J. Earth Sys. Sci., 121, 1125-1143. Full Text (PDF)

  • Wilson, A. B., D. H. Bromwich, K. M. Hines, 2012: Evaluation of Polar WRF forecasts on the Arctic System Reanalysis domain. 2. Atmospheric hydrologic cycle. J. Geophys. Res., 17, D04107, doi: 10.1029/2011JD016765. Full Text (PDF)

  • Hines, K. M., D. H. Bromwich, L.-S. Bai, M. Barlage, and A. G. Slater, 2011: Development and testing of Polar WRF. Part III. Arctic land. J. Climate, 24, 26-48, doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI3460.1. Full Text (PDF)

  • Wilson, A. B., D. H. Bromwich, K. M. Hines, 2011: Evaluation of Polar WRF forecasts on the Arctic System Reanalysis domain: Surface and upper air analysis. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D11112, doi: 10.1029/2010JD015013. Full Text (PDF)

  • Bromwich, D. H., K. M. Hines, and L.-S. Bai, 2009: Development and Testing of Polar Weather Research and Forecasting Model: 2. Arctic Ocean. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D08122, doi:10.1029/2008JD010300. Full Text (PDF)

  • Hines, K.M., D.H. Bromwich, M. Barlage, and A.G. Slater, 2009: Arctic land simulations with Polar WRF. Preprints, 10th Conference on Polar Meteorology and Oceanography, American Meteorological Society, 18-21 May 2009, Madison, WI. (PDF)

  • Wilson, A.B., D.H. Bromwich, K.M. Hines, and C.E. Landis, 2009: Enhancement of Polar WRF Arctic atmospheric and surface processes. Preprints, 10th Conference on Polar Meteorology and Oceanography, American Meteorological Society, 18-21 May 2009, Madison, WI. (PDF)

  • Hines, K. M., and D. H. Bromwich, 2008: Development and testing of Polar WRF. Part I. Greenland ice sheet meteorology. Mon. Wea. Rev., 136, 1971-1989. Full Text (PDF)

    Polar WRF Links:

  • Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) - WRF
  • BPRC Arctic Numerical Weather Prediction - PWRF
  • BPRC Antarctic Numerical Weather Prediction - PWRF