Scheduled Downtime
On Friday 21 April 2023 @ 5pm MT, this website will be down for maintenance and expected to return online the morning of 24 April 2023 at the latest

(RESOLVED) Domain setup best practices?

This post was from a previous version of the WRF&MPAS-A Support Forum. New replies have been disabled and if you have follow up questions related to this post, then please start a new thread from the forum home page.


New member
I’m working on a project to compare historical WRF simulations to end-of-century to estimate how streamflow may change. I’ve been doing test simulations to decide how we’d like to setup our model domain. We’d like to have the outer domain at 27 km and the nested one at 9 km. However, the simulations results are differing more than expected. I’ve attached two figures – one has a map of each setup (with the 27 km in the black outline and the 9 km domain shaded with elevation). The other figure is just a quick comparison of 3-hourly output for runoff, precipitation, snow water equivalent, and snowfall. I don’t have any statistics calculated, but it’s clear that there’s a bit of divergence in each variable (particularly precip and SWE) among the four domain setups.

So I’m wondering if there are any accepted best practices for setting up domains? In my experience with WRF, I’m tried to align my domains with topography, so sort of like how the top row of maps aligns with the Sierra Nevada mountain range. However, I wasn’t able to find anything in the literature that supported this.

I appreciate any suggestions and thoughts on why these simulations are giving us such different results!


  • domainmaps.jpg
    84.4 KB · Views: 2,330
  • sierra_4domaincompare.jpg
    53.5 KB · Views: 2,326
I've moved this post to a new forum category called 'Domain Set-up' under the WPS section.

We actually recommend keeping model boundaries away from high terrain, as this can sometimes cause problems. We do have a 'best practice' page that gives a lot of hints for setting up a domain; however, as for the varying results you're seeing, it may not help with that. I would recommend following the best practices and then you'll just need to play around with slightly varying set-ups to see what seems the most realistic to you.
Here is the page for the WPS namelist:

and if you're interested in the WRF namelist page for the future:

Thank you for sharing those pages! I'll read them over and hopefully find a better domain setup. I appreciate the help.