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A Scheme for Parameterizing Ice-Cloud Water Content in General Circulation Models

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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Abstract

The optical properties of ice clouds are a primary issue for climate and climate change. Evaluating these optical properties in three-dimensional models for studying climate will require a method to calculate the ice water content of such clouds. A procedure is developed to parameterize ice water content as a function of large-scale meteorological characteristics for use in circulation models in which the ice water content is not calculated by means of a three-dimensional prognostic equation for condensed water. The technique identifies large-scale flows in which ice clouds exist and calculates their ice water content by reconstructing the trajectory associated with cloud formation. As the cloud forms, its ice content changes both by deposition of ice from water vapor and by ice removal by sedimentation. The sedimentation process is found to modify significantly the ice water content expected from deposition alone. Ice water contents predicted by the parameterization are compared with aircraft observations collected in the middle latitudes and the tropics, and show reasonable agreement over four orders-of-magnitude of ice water content. A parameterization for the sublimation of ice crystals settling into ice-subsaturated environments is also presented.

Abstract

The optical properties of ice clouds are a primary issue for climate and climate change. Evaluating these optical properties in three-dimensional models for studying climate will require a method to calculate the ice water content of such clouds. A procedure is developed to parameterize ice water content as a function of large-scale meteorological characteristics for use in circulation models in which the ice water content is not calculated by means of a three-dimensional prognostic equation for condensed water. The technique identifies large-scale flows in which ice clouds exist and calculates their ice water content by reconstructing the trajectory associated with cloud formation. As the cloud forms, its ice content changes both by deposition of ice from water vapor and by ice removal by sedimentation. The sedimentation process is found to modify significantly the ice water content expected from deposition alone. Ice water contents predicted by the parameterization are compared with aircraft observations collected in the middle latitudes and the tropics, and show reasonable agreement over four orders-of-magnitude of ice water content. A parameterization for the sublimation of ice crystals settling into ice-subsaturated environments is also presented.

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