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Effects of Increased Horizontal Resolution on Simulation of the North American Monsoon in the NCAR CAM3: An Evaluation Based on Surface, Satellite, and Reanalysis Data

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  • 1 Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California
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Abstract

Simulation of the North American monsoon system by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3) is evaluated in its sensitivity to increasing horizontal resolution. For two resolutions, T42 and T85, rainfall is compared to Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite-derived and surface gauge-based rainfall rates over the United States and northern Mexico as well as rainfall accumulations in gauges of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Enhanced Rain Gauge Network (NERN) in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Simulated upper-tropospheric mass and wind fields are compared to those from NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. The comparison presented herein demonstrates that tropospheric motions associated with the North American monsoon system are sensitive to increasing the horizontal resolution of the model. An increase in resolution from T42 to T85 results in changes to a region of large-scale midtropospheric descent found north and east of the monsoon anticyclone. Relative to its simulation at T42, this region extends farther south and west at T85. Additionally, at T85, the subsidence is stronger. Consistent with the differences in large-scale descent, the T85 simulation of CAM3 is anomalously dry over Texas and northeastern Mexico during the peak monsoon months. Meanwhile, the geographic distribution of rainfall over the Sierra Madre Occidental region of Mexico is more satisfactorily simulated at T85 than at T42 for July and August. Moisture import into this region is greater at T85 than at T42 during these months. A focused study of the Sierra Madre Occidental region in particular shows that, in the regional-average sense, the timing of the peak of the monsoon is relatively insensitive to the horizontal resolution of the model, while a phase bias in the diurnal cycle of monsoon season precipitation is somewhat reduced in the higher-resolution run. At both resolutions, CAM3 poorly simulates the month-to-month evolution of monsoon rainfall over extreme northwestern Mexico and Arizona, though biases are considerably improved at T85.

Corresponding author address: J. Craig Collier, Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0221. Email: craigc@fiji.ucsd.edu

This article included in the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) special collection.

Abstract

Simulation of the North American monsoon system by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3) is evaluated in its sensitivity to increasing horizontal resolution. For two resolutions, T42 and T85, rainfall is compared to Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite-derived and surface gauge-based rainfall rates over the United States and northern Mexico as well as rainfall accumulations in gauges of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Enhanced Rain Gauge Network (NERN) in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Simulated upper-tropospheric mass and wind fields are compared to those from NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. The comparison presented herein demonstrates that tropospheric motions associated with the North American monsoon system are sensitive to increasing the horizontal resolution of the model. An increase in resolution from T42 to T85 results in changes to a region of large-scale midtropospheric descent found north and east of the monsoon anticyclone. Relative to its simulation at T42, this region extends farther south and west at T85. Additionally, at T85, the subsidence is stronger. Consistent with the differences in large-scale descent, the T85 simulation of CAM3 is anomalously dry over Texas and northeastern Mexico during the peak monsoon months. Meanwhile, the geographic distribution of rainfall over the Sierra Madre Occidental region of Mexico is more satisfactorily simulated at T85 than at T42 for July and August. Moisture import into this region is greater at T85 than at T42 during these months. A focused study of the Sierra Madre Occidental region in particular shows that, in the regional-average sense, the timing of the peak of the monsoon is relatively insensitive to the horizontal resolution of the model, while a phase bias in the diurnal cycle of monsoon season precipitation is somewhat reduced in the higher-resolution run. At both resolutions, CAM3 poorly simulates the month-to-month evolution of monsoon rainfall over extreme northwestern Mexico and Arizona, though biases are considerably improved at T85.

Corresponding author address: J. Craig Collier, Center for Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093-0221. Email: craigc@fiji.ucsd.edu

This article included in the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) special collection.

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