Water Vapor Content of the Current and Future Climate of North America

This visualization shows column integrated water vapor content over North America for the period April to June 2011, during which time one of the most destructive and deadliest tornado outbreaks to impact the United States occurred (April 25-28). Side-by-side comparison of the simulations show greater water vapor content in the simulated future climate, which can provide more moisture for convection. The high resolution dataset was created by the Water System Program of the National Center for Atmospheric Research using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model at 4-km grid spacing, with ERA-Interim as initial and boundary conditions for the current climate. The future climate simulation was created by perturbing the initial and boundary conditions with the CMIP5 ensemble mean of the high emission climate change scenario (RCP8.5).


Movie File (1920×1080, MP4, 266MB)


Present and Future Water Vapor

Image Download (3828×2146, PNG, 5.3MB)

Computational Resources

High-performance computing support from Yellowstone (ark:/85065/d7wd3xhc) provided by NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory’s NCAR Strategic Capability allocation.

Visualization and Post-production

Tim Scheitlin – NCAR/CISL Visualization Services and Research (ViSR) Group


Weather Research and Forecast (WRF)

Data Source

Liu, Changhai, Kyoko Ikeda, Roy Rasmussen, Mike Barlage, Andrew J. Newman, Andreas F. Prein, Fei Chen, Liang Chen, Martyn Clark, Aiguo Dai, Jimy Dudhia, Trude Eidhammer, David Gochis, Ethan Gutmann, Sopan Kurkute, Yanping Li, Gregory Thompson and David Yates, 2017: Continental-scale convection-permitting modeling of the current and future climate of North America. Climate Dynamics, 49, 71-95 (DOI: 10.1007/s00382-016-3327-9). Data is available from the NCAR Research Data Archive (https://rda.ucar.edu/).

Visualization Software

The NCAR Command Language (Version 6.6.2) [Software]. (2019). 
  Boulder, Colorado: UCAR/NCAR/CISL/TDD. http://dx.doi.org/10.5065/D6WD3XH5