The Surface Downwelling Solar Radiation Surplus over the Southern Ocean in the Met Office Model: The Role of Midlatitude Cyclone Clouds

A. Bodas-Salcedo Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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K. D. Williams Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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P. R. Field Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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A. P. Lock Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Abstract

The authors study the role of clouds in the persistent bias of surface downwelling shortwave radiation (SDSR) in the Southern Ocean in the atmosphere-only version of the Met Office model. The reduction of this bias in the atmosphere-only version is important to minimize sea surface temperature biases when the atmosphere model is coupled to a dynamic ocean. The authors use cloud properties and radiative fluxes estimates from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and apply a clustering technique to classify clouds into different regimes over the Southern Ocean. Then, they composite the cloud regimes around cyclone centers, which allows them to study the role of each cloud regime in a mean composite cyclone. Low- and midlevel clouds in the cold-air sector of the cyclones are responsible for most of the bias. Based on this analysis, the authors develop and test a new diagnosis of shear-dominated boundary layers. This change improves the simulation of the SDSR through a better simulation of the frequency of occurrence of the cloud regimes in the cyclone composite. Substantial biases in the radiative properties of the midtop and stratocumulus regimes are still present, which suggests the need to increase the optical depth of the low-level cloud with moderate optical depth and cloud with tops at midlevels.

Corresponding author address: A. Bodas-Salcedo, Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, United Kingdom. E-mail: alejandro.bodas@metoffice.gov.uk

Abstract

The authors study the role of clouds in the persistent bias of surface downwelling shortwave radiation (SDSR) in the Southern Ocean in the atmosphere-only version of the Met Office model. The reduction of this bias in the atmosphere-only version is important to minimize sea surface temperature biases when the atmosphere model is coupled to a dynamic ocean. The authors use cloud properties and radiative fluxes estimates from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and apply a clustering technique to classify clouds into different regimes over the Southern Ocean. Then, they composite the cloud regimes around cyclone centers, which allows them to study the role of each cloud regime in a mean composite cyclone. Low- and midlevel clouds in the cold-air sector of the cyclones are responsible for most of the bias. Based on this analysis, the authors develop and test a new diagnosis of shear-dominated boundary layers. This change improves the simulation of the SDSR through a better simulation of the frequency of occurrence of the cloud regimes in the cyclone composite. Substantial biases in the radiative properties of the midtop and stratocumulus regimes are still present, which suggests the need to increase the optical depth of the low-level cloud with moderate optical depth and cloud with tops at midlevels.

Corresponding author address: A. Bodas-Salcedo, Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, United Kingdom. E-mail: alejandro.bodas@metoffice.gov.uk
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