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Improvements in Global Climate Model Microphysics Using a Consistent Representation of Ice Particle Properties

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
  • | 3 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 4 Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada
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Abstract

This paper describes a new approach for representing ice microphysics in climate models. In contrast with most previous schemes, this approach does not include separate categories for cloud and precipitating ice and instead uses a single two-moment category to represent all solid hydrometeors. Thus, there is no need for an ice “autoconversion” size threshold parameter, which has a critical impact on simulated climate in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) yet is poorly constrained by theory or observations. Further, in the new treatment, all ice microphysical processes and parameters, including ice effective radius and mean fall speed, are formulated self-consistently and flexibly based on empirical ice particle mass–size and projected area–size relationships. This means that the scheme can represent the physical coupling between bulk particle density, mean fall speed, and effective radius, which is not possible in current schemes. Two different methods for specifying these relationships based on observations are proposed. The new scheme is tested in global simulations using CAM5. Differences in simulations using the two methods for specifying the mass– and projected area–size relationships, particularly the cloud radiative forcing, are attributable mainly to the effects on mean ice particle fall speed, impacting sedimentation and ice water path. With some tuning of parameters involved in calculating homogeneous freezing it produces a similar climate compared to the simulations using the original CAM5 microphysics. Thus, it can produce a comparable climate while improving the physical basis and self-consistency of ice particle properties and parameters.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Trude Eidhammer, NCAR, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80503. E-mail: trude@ucar.edu

Abstract

This paper describes a new approach for representing ice microphysics in climate models. In contrast with most previous schemes, this approach does not include separate categories for cloud and precipitating ice and instead uses a single two-moment category to represent all solid hydrometeors. Thus, there is no need for an ice “autoconversion” size threshold parameter, which has a critical impact on simulated climate in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) yet is poorly constrained by theory or observations. Further, in the new treatment, all ice microphysical processes and parameters, including ice effective radius and mean fall speed, are formulated self-consistently and flexibly based on empirical ice particle mass–size and projected area–size relationships. This means that the scheme can represent the physical coupling between bulk particle density, mean fall speed, and effective radius, which is not possible in current schemes. Two different methods for specifying these relationships based on observations are proposed. The new scheme is tested in global simulations using CAM5. Differences in simulations using the two methods for specifying the mass– and projected area–size relationships, particularly the cloud radiative forcing, are attributable mainly to the effects on mean ice particle fall speed, impacting sedimentation and ice water path. With some tuning of parameters involved in calculating homogeneous freezing it produces a similar climate compared to the simulations using the original CAM5 microphysics. Thus, it can produce a comparable climate while improving the physical basis and self-consistency of ice particle properties and parameters.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Trude Eidhammer, NCAR, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80503. E-mail: trude@ucar.edu
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