A 1991 AGU Fall Meeting session, Precipitation in Topographically Diverse Regions, focused on the understanding and modeling of precipitation in regions with significant topography, concentrating on the effect of topography on precipitation. Contributions ranged from detailed mesoscale atmospheric models to statistical approaches.
Two papers presented detailed physical modeling. A. P. Barros and D. P. Lettenmaier described their work, consisting of a threedimensional finite element model based on the measurement of moist static energy. Application of the model in the Olympic and Cascades mountains demonstrated its potential to model monthly precipitation totals to within 15%. F. Giorgi described some of the work being done at NCAR that is focusing on the regional impacts of global climate change. This work uses a mesoscale meteorological model (Penn State/NCAR MM4) embedded within a general circulation model. There were three papers from the USGS/Colorado State group that described work involving the RHEA-CSU orographic precipitation model that has been coupled with the USGS/s distributed parameter Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS). The orographic precipitation model has been integrated into a geographic information system to facilitate the use of digital elevation data. The PRMS is based on the concept of hydrologic response units, and the results presented illustrated the scale's sensitivity to these. When rectangular boxes were used instead of the usual response units defined by streams and drainage divides, there was no appreciable degradation in the quality of the simulation. The size and number of response units appears to be more crucial than whether they are demarcated by drainage divides and streams or simply arbitrary.