Local Versus Nonlocal Boundary-Layer Diffusion in a Global Climate Model

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  • 1 Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bill, the Netherlands
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research,Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The results of a local and a nonlocal scheme for vertical diffusion in the atmospheric boundary layer are compared within the context of a global climate model. The global model is an updated version of the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM2). The local diffusion scheme uses an eddy diffusivity determined independently at each point in the vertical, based on local vertical gradients of wind and virtual potential temperature, similar to the usual approach in global atmospheric models. The nonlocal scheme determines an eddy-diffusivity profile based on a diagnosed boundary-layer height and a turbulent velocity scale. It also incorporates nonlocal (vertical) transport effects for heat and moisture.

The two diffusion schemes are summarized, and their results are compared with independent radiosonde observations for a number of locations. The focus herein is on the temperature and humidity structure over ocean, where the surface temperatures are specified, since the boundary-layer scheme interacts strongly with the land-surface parameterization. Systematic differences are shown in global-climate simulations, with CCM2 using the two schemes. The nonlocal scheme transports moisture away from the surface more rapidly than the local scheme, and deposits the moisture at higher levels. The local scheme tends to saturate the lowest model levels unrealistically, which typically leads to clouds too low in the atmosphere.

The nonlocal scheme has been chosen for CCM2 because of its more comprehensive representation of the physics of boundary-layer transport in dry convective conditions.

Abstract

The results of a local and a nonlocal scheme for vertical diffusion in the atmospheric boundary layer are compared within the context of a global climate model. The global model is an updated version of the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM2). The local diffusion scheme uses an eddy diffusivity determined independently at each point in the vertical, based on local vertical gradients of wind and virtual potential temperature, similar to the usual approach in global atmospheric models. The nonlocal scheme determines an eddy-diffusivity profile based on a diagnosed boundary-layer height and a turbulent velocity scale. It also incorporates nonlocal (vertical) transport effects for heat and moisture.

The two diffusion schemes are summarized, and their results are compared with independent radiosonde observations for a number of locations. The focus herein is on the temperature and humidity structure over ocean, where the surface temperatures are specified, since the boundary-layer scheme interacts strongly with the land-surface parameterization. Systematic differences are shown in global-climate simulations, with CCM2 using the two schemes. The nonlocal scheme transports moisture away from the surface more rapidly than the local scheme, and deposits the moisture at higher levels. The local scheme tends to saturate the lowest model levels unrealistically, which typically leads to clouds too low in the atmosphere.

The nonlocal scheme has been chosen for CCM2 because of its more comprehensive representation of the physics of boundary-layer transport in dry convective conditions.

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