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Cloud Simulations in Response to Turbulence Parameterizations in the GISS Model E GCM

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  • 1 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Sigma Space Partners LLC, New York, New York
  • | 2 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, New York
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Abstract

The response of cloud simulations to turbulence parameterizations is studied systematically using the GISS general circulation model (GCM) E2 employed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Without the turbulence parameterization, the relative humidity (RH) and the low cloud cover peak unrealistically close to the surface; with the dry convection or with only the local turbulence parameterization, these two quantities improve their vertical structures, but the vertical transport of water vapor is still weak in the planetary boundary layers (PBLs); with both local and nonlocal turbulence parameterizations, the RH and low cloud cover have better vertical structures in all latitudes due to more significant vertical transport of water vapor in the PBL. The study also compares the cloud and radiation climatologies obtained from an experiment using a newer version of turbulence parameterization being developed at GISS with those obtained from the AR5 version. This newer scheme differs from the AR5 version in computing nonlocal transports, turbulent length scale, and PBL height and shows significant improvements in cloud and radiation simulations, especially over the subtropical eastern oceans and the southern oceans. The diagnosed PBL heights appear to correlate well with the low cloud distribution over oceans. This suggests that a cloud-producing scheme needs to be constructed in a framework that also takes the turbulence into consideration.

Current affiliation: Trinnovim LLC, New York, New York.

Corresponding author address: Mao-Sung Yao, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Trinnovim LLC, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. E-mail: mao-sung.yao@nasa.gov

Abstract

The response of cloud simulations to turbulence parameterizations is studied systematically using the GISS general circulation model (GCM) E2 employed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Without the turbulence parameterization, the relative humidity (RH) and the low cloud cover peak unrealistically close to the surface; with the dry convection or with only the local turbulence parameterization, these two quantities improve their vertical structures, but the vertical transport of water vapor is still weak in the planetary boundary layers (PBLs); with both local and nonlocal turbulence parameterizations, the RH and low cloud cover have better vertical structures in all latitudes due to more significant vertical transport of water vapor in the PBL. The study also compares the cloud and radiation climatologies obtained from an experiment using a newer version of turbulence parameterization being developed at GISS with those obtained from the AR5 version. This newer scheme differs from the AR5 version in computing nonlocal transports, turbulent length scale, and PBL height and shows significant improvements in cloud and radiation simulations, especially over the subtropical eastern oceans and the southern oceans. The diagnosed PBL heights appear to correlate well with the low cloud distribution over oceans. This suggests that a cloud-producing scheme needs to be constructed in a framework that also takes the turbulence into consideration.

Current affiliation: Trinnovim LLC, New York, New York.

Corresponding author address: Mao-Sung Yao, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and Trinnovim LLC, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. E-mail: mao-sung.yao@nasa.gov
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