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The Sensitivity of Intraseasonal Variability in the NCAR CCM3 to Changes in Convective Parameterization

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model, version 3.6 (CCM3) simulation of tropical intraseasonal variability in zonal winds and precipitation can be improved by implementing the microphysics of cloud with relaxed Arakawa–Schubert (McRAS) convection scheme of Sud and Walker. The default CCM3 convection scheme of Zhang and McFarlane produces intraseasonal variability in both zonal winds and precipitation that is much lower than is observed. The convection scheme of Hack produces high tropical intraseasonal zonal wind variability but no coherent convective variability at intraseasonal timescales and low wavenumbers. The McRAS convection scheme produces realistic variability in tropical intraseasonal zonal winds and improved intraseasonal variability in tropical precipitation, although the variability in precipitation is somewhat less than is observed. Intraseasonal variability in CCM3 with the McRAS scheme is highly sensitive to the parameterization of convective precipitation evaporation in unsaturated environmental air and unsaturated downdrafts. Removing these effects greatly reduces intraseasonal variability in the model. Convective evaporation processes in McRAS affect intraseasonal variability mainly through their time-mean effects and not through their variations. Convective rain evaporation and unsaturated downdrafts improve the modeled specific humidity and temperature climates of the Tropics and increase convection on the equator. Intraseasonal variability in CCM3 with McRAS is not improved by increasing the boundary layer relative humidity threshold for initiation of convection, contrary to the results of Wang and Schlesinger. In fact, intraseasonal variability is reduced for higher thresholds. The largest intraseasonal moisture variations during a model Madden–Julian oscillation life cycle occur above the boundary layer, and humidity variations within the boundary layer are small.

* Current affiliation: Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

Corresponding author address: Eric Maloney, NCAR/CGD, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000.

Email: maloney@ucar.edu

Abstract

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Climate Model, version 3.6 (CCM3) simulation of tropical intraseasonal variability in zonal winds and precipitation can be improved by implementing the microphysics of cloud with relaxed Arakawa–Schubert (McRAS) convection scheme of Sud and Walker. The default CCM3 convection scheme of Zhang and McFarlane produces intraseasonal variability in both zonal winds and precipitation that is much lower than is observed. The convection scheme of Hack produces high tropical intraseasonal zonal wind variability but no coherent convective variability at intraseasonal timescales and low wavenumbers. The McRAS convection scheme produces realistic variability in tropical intraseasonal zonal winds and improved intraseasonal variability in tropical precipitation, although the variability in precipitation is somewhat less than is observed. Intraseasonal variability in CCM3 with the McRAS scheme is highly sensitive to the parameterization of convective precipitation evaporation in unsaturated environmental air and unsaturated downdrafts. Removing these effects greatly reduces intraseasonal variability in the model. Convective evaporation processes in McRAS affect intraseasonal variability mainly through their time-mean effects and not through their variations. Convective rain evaporation and unsaturated downdrafts improve the modeled specific humidity and temperature climates of the Tropics and increase convection on the equator. Intraseasonal variability in CCM3 with McRAS is not improved by increasing the boundary layer relative humidity threshold for initiation of convection, contrary to the results of Wang and Schlesinger. In fact, intraseasonal variability is reduced for higher thresholds. The largest intraseasonal moisture variations during a model Madden–Julian oscillation life cycle occur above the boundary layer, and humidity variations within the boundary layer are small.

* Current affiliation: Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

Corresponding author address: Eric Maloney, NCAR/CGD, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000.

Email: maloney@ucar.edu

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