Ensemble Spread Grows More Rapidly in Higher-Resolution Simulations of Deep Convection

Jonathan A. Weyn Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Dale R. Durran Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

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Abstract

Idealized ensemble simulations of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) with horizontal grid spacings of 1, 1.4, and 2 km are used to analyze the influence of numerical resolution on the rate of growth of ensemble spread in convection-resolving numerical models. The ensembles are initialized with random phases of 91-km-wavelength moisture perturbations that are captured with essentially identical accuracy at all resolutions. The rate of growth of ensemble variance is shown to systematically increase at higher resolution. The largest horizontal wavelength at which the perturbation kinetic energy (KE′) grows to at least 50% of the background kinetic energy spectrum is also shown to grow more rapidly at higher resolution. The mechanism by which the presence of smaller scales accelerates the upscale growth of KE′ is clear-cut in the smooth-saturation Lorenz–Rotunno–Snyder (ssLRS) model of homogeneous surface quasigeostrophic turbulence. Comparing the growth of KE′ from the MCS ensemble simulations to that in the ssLRS model suggests interactions between perturbations at small scales, where KE′ is not yet completely saturated, and somewhat larger scales, where KE′ is clearly unsaturated, are responsible for the faster growth rate of ensemble variance at finer resolution. These results provide some empirical justification for the use of deep-convection-related stochastic parameterization schemes to reduce the problem of underdispersion in coarser-resolution ensemble prediction systems.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Jonathan A. Weyn, jweyn@uw.edu

Abstract

Idealized ensemble simulations of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) with horizontal grid spacings of 1, 1.4, and 2 km are used to analyze the influence of numerical resolution on the rate of growth of ensemble spread in convection-resolving numerical models. The ensembles are initialized with random phases of 91-km-wavelength moisture perturbations that are captured with essentially identical accuracy at all resolutions. The rate of growth of ensemble variance is shown to systematically increase at higher resolution. The largest horizontal wavelength at which the perturbation kinetic energy (KE′) grows to at least 50% of the background kinetic energy spectrum is also shown to grow more rapidly at higher resolution. The mechanism by which the presence of smaller scales accelerates the upscale growth of KE′ is clear-cut in the smooth-saturation Lorenz–Rotunno–Snyder (ssLRS) model of homogeneous surface quasigeostrophic turbulence. Comparing the growth of KE′ from the MCS ensemble simulations to that in the ssLRS model suggests interactions between perturbations at small scales, where KE′ is not yet completely saturated, and somewhat larger scales, where KE′ is clearly unsaturated, are responsible for the faster growth rate of ensemble variance at finer resolution. These results provide some empirical justification for the use of deep-convection-related stochastic parameterization schemes to reduce the problem of underdispersion in coarser-resolution ensemble prediction systems.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Jonathan A. Weyn, jweyn@uw.edu
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