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Toward a Systematic Evaluation of Warm Conveyor Belts in Numerical Weather Prediction and Climate Models. Part I: Predictor Selection and Logistic Regression Model

Julian F. Quinting and Christian M. Grams

Abstract

The physical and dynamical processes associated with warm conveyor belts (WCBs) importantly affect midlatitude dynamics and are sources of forecast uncertainty. Moreover, WCBs modulate the large-scale extratropical circulation and can communicate and amplify forecast errors. Therefore, it is desirable to assess the representation of WCBs in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models in particular on the medium to subseasonal forecast range. Most often, WCBs are identified as coherent bundles of Lagrangian trajectories that ascend in a time interval of 2 days from the lower to the upper troposphere. Although this Lagrangian approach has advanced the understanding of the involved processes significantly, the calculation of trajectories is computationally expensive and requires NWP data at a high spatial [O(~1)], vertical [O(~10hPa)], and temporal resolution [O(~36h)]. In this study, we present a statistical framework that derives footprints of WCBs from coarser NWP data that are routinely available. To this end, gridpoint-specific multivariate logistic regression models are developed for the Northern Hemisphere using meteorological parameters from ERA-Interim data as predictors and binary footprints of WCB inflow, ascent, and outflow based on a Lagrangian dataset as predictands. Stepwise forward selection identifies the most important predictors for these three WCB stages. The logistic models are reliable in replicating the climatological frequency of WCBs as well as the footprints of WCBs at instantaneous time steps. The novel framework is a first step toward a systematic evaluation of WCB representation in large datasets such as subseasonal ensemble reforecasts or climate projections.

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Zhe Feng, Fengfei Song, Koichi Sakaguchi, and L. Ruby Leung

Abstract

A process-oriented approach is developed to evaluate warm-season mesoscale convective system (MCS) precipitation and their favorable large-scale meteorological patterns (FLSMPs) over the United States. This approach features a novel observation-driven MCS-tracking algorithm using infrared brightness temperature and precipitation features at 12-, 25-, and 50-km resolution and metrics to evaluate the model large-scale environment favorable for MCS initiation. The tracking algorithm successfully reproduces the observed MCS statistics from a reference 4-km radar MCS database. To demonstrate the utility of the new methodologies in evaluating MCS in climate simulations with mesoscale resolution, the process-oriented approach is applied to two climate simulations produced by the Variable-Resolution Model for Prediction Across Scales coupled to the Community Atmosphere Model physics, with refined horizontal grid spacing at 50 and 25 km over North America. With the tracking algorithm applied to simulations and observations at equivalent resolutions, the simulated number of MCS and associated precipitation amount, frequency, and intensity are found to be consistently underestimated in the central United States, particularly from May to August. The simulated MCS precipitation shows little diurnal variation and lasts too long, while the MCS precipitation area is too large and its intensity is too weak. The model is able to simulate four types of observed FLSMP associated with frontal systems and low-level jets (LLJ) in spring, but the frequencies are underestimated because of low-level dry bias and weaker LLJ. Precipitation simulated under different FLSMPs peak during the daytime, in contrast to the observed nocturnal peak. Implications of these findings for future model development and diagnostics are discussed.

Open access
Samson M. Hagos, L. Ruby Leung, Oluwayemi A. Garuba, Charlotte Demott, Bryce Harrop, Jian Lu, and Min-Seop Ahn

Abstract

It is well documented that over the tropical oceans, column-integrated precipitable water (pw) and precipitation (P) have a nonlinear relationship. In this study moisture budget analysis is used to examine this P–pw relationship in a normalized precipitable water framework. It is shown that the parameters of the nonlinear relationship depend on the vertical structure of moisture convergence. Specifically, the precipitable water values at which precipitation is balanced independently by evaporation versus by moisture convergence define a critical normalized precipitable water, pwnc. This is a measure of convective inhibition that separates tropical precipitation into two regimes: a local evaporation-controlled regime with widespread drizzle and a precipitable water–controlled regime. Most of the 17 CMIP6 historical simulations examined here have higher pwnc compared to ERA5, and more frequently they operate in the drizzle regime. When compared to observations, they overestimate precipitation over the high-evaporation oceanic regions off the equator, thereby producing a “double ITCZ” feature, while underestimating precipitation over the large tropical landmasses and over the climatologically moist oceanic regions near the equator. The responses to warming under the SSP585 scenario are also examined using the normalized precipitable water framework. It is shown that the critical normalized precipitable water value at which evaporation versus moisture convergence balance precipitation decreases as a result of the competing dynamic and thermodynamic responses to warming, resulting in an increase in drizzle and total precipitation. Statistically significant historical trends corresponding to the thermodynamic and dynamic changes are detected in ERA5 and in low-intensity drizzle precipitation in the PERSIANN precipitation dataset.

Open access
Maik Renner, Axel Kleidon, Martyn Clark, Bart Nijssen, Marvin Heidkamp, Martin Best, and Gab Abramowitz

Abstract

The diurnal cycle of solar radiation represents the strongest energetic forcing and dominates the exchange of heat and mass of the land surface with the atmosphere. This diurnal heat redistribution represents a core of land–atmosphere coupling that should be accurately represented in land surface models (LSMs), which are critical parts of weather and climate models. We employ a diagnostic model evaluation approach using a signature-based metric that describes the diurnal variation of heat fluxes. The metric is obtained by decomposing the diurnal variation of surface heat fluxes into their direct response and the phase lag to incoming solar radiation. We employ the output of 13 different LSMs driven with meteorological forcing of 20 FLUXNET sites (PLUMBER dataset). All LSMs show a poor representation of the evaporative fraction and thus the diurnal magnitude of the sensible and latent heat flux under cloud-free conditions. In addition, we find that the diurnal phase of both heat fluxes is poorly represented. The best performing model only reproduces 33% of the evaluated evaporative conditions across the sites. The poor performance of the diurnal cycle of turbulent heat exchange appears to be linked to how models solve for the surface energy balance and redistribute heat into the subsurface. We conclude that a systematic evaluation of diurnal signatures is likely to help to improve the simulated diurnal cycle, better represent land–atmosphere interactions, and therefore improve simulations of the near-surface climate.

Open access
Suzana J. Camargo, Claudia F. Giulivi, Adam H. Sobel, Allison A. Wing, Daehyun Kim, Yumin Moon, Jeffrey D. O. Strong, Anthony D. Del Genio, Maxwell Kelley, Hiroyuki Murakami, Kevin A. Reed, Enrico Scoccimarro, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Michael F. Wehner, Colin Zarzycki, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Here we explore the relationship between the global climatological characteristics of tropical cyclones (TCs) in climate models and the modeled large-scale environment across a large number of models. We consider the climatology of TCs in 30 climate models with a wide range of horizontal resolutions. We examine if there is a systematic relationship between the climatological diagnostics for the TC activity [number of tropical cyclones (NTC) and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE)] by hemisphere in the models and the environmental fields usually associated with TC activity, when examined across a large number of models. For low-resolution models, there is no association between a conducive environment and TC activity, when integrated over space (tropical hemisphere) and time (all years of the simulation). As the model resolution increases, for a couple of variables, in particular vertical wind shear, there is a statistically significant relationship in between the models’ TC characteristics and the environmental characteristics, but in most cases the relationship is either nonexistent or the opposite of what is expected based on observations. It is important to stress that these results do not imply that there is no relationship between individual models’ environmental fields and their TC activity by basin with respect to intraseasonal or interannual variability or due to climate change. However, it is clear that when examined across many models, the models’ mean state does not have a consistent relationship with the models’ mean TC activity. Therefore, other processes associated with the model physics, dynamical core, and resolution determine the climatological TC activity in climate models.

Free access
Jiabao Wang, Hyemi Kim, Daehyun Kim, Stephanie A. Henderson, Cristiana Stan, and Eric D. Maloney

Abstract

We propose a set of MJO teleconnection diagnostics that enables an objective evaluation of model simulations, a fair model-to-model comparison, and a consistent tracking of model improvement. Various skill metrics are derived from teleconnection diagnostics including five performance-based metrics that characterize the pattern, amplitude, east–west position, persistence, and consistency of MJO teleconnections and additional two process-oriented metrics that are designed to characterize the location and intensity of the anomalous Rossby wave source (RWS). The proposed teleconnection skill metrics are used to compare the characteristics of boreal winter MJO teleconnections (500-hPa geopotential height anomaly) over the Pacific–North America (PNA) region in 29 global climate models (GCMs). The results show that current GCMs generally produce MJO teleconnections that are stronger, more persistent, and extend too far to the east when compared to those observed in reanalysis. In general, models simulate more realistic teleconnection patterns when the MJO is in phases 2–3 or phases 7–8, which are characterized by a dipole convection pattern over the Indian Ocean and western to central Pacific. The higher model skill for phases 2, 7, and 8 may be due to these phases producing more consistent teleconnection patterns between individual MJO events than other phases, although the consistency is lower in most models than observed. Models that simulate realistic RWS patterns better reproduce MJO teleconnection patterns.

Open access
Catherine M. Naud, James F. Booth, Jeyavinoth Jeyaratnam, Leo J. Donner, Charles J. Seman, Ming Zhao, Huan Guo, and Yi Ming

Abstract

The clouds in Southern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones generated by the GFDL climate model are analyzed against MODIS, CloudSat, and CALIPSO cloud and precipitation observations. Two model versions are used: one is a developmental version of “AM4,” a model GFDL that will utilize for CMIP6, and the other is the same model with a different parameterization of moist convection. Both model versions predict a realistic top-of-atmosphere cloud cover in the southern oceans, within 5% of the observations. However, an examination of cloud cover transects in extratropical cyclones reveals a tendency in the models to overestimate high-level clouds (by differing amounts) and underestimate cloud cover at low levels (again by differing amounts), especially in the post–cold frontal (PCF) region, when compared with observations. In focusing only on the models, it is seen that their differences in high and midlevel clouds are consistent with their differences in convective activity and relative humidity (RH), but the same is not true for the PCF region. In this region, RH is higher in the model with less cloud fraction. These seemingly contradictory cloud and RH differences can be explained by differences in the cloud-parameterization tuning parameters that ensure radiative balance. In the PCF region, the model cloud differences are smaller than either of the model biases with respect to observations, suggesting that other physics changes are needed to address the bias. The process-oriented analysis used to assess these model differences will soon be automated and shared.

Full access
Allison A. Wing, Suzana J. Camargo, Adam H. Sobel, Daehyun Kim, Yumin Moon, Hiroyuki Murakami, Kevin A. Reed, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Michael F. Wehner, Colin Zarzycki, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Tropical cyclone intensification processes are explored in six high-resolution climate models. The analysis framework employs process-oriented diagnostics that focus on how convection, moisture, clouds, and related processes are coupled. These diagnostics include budgets of column moist static energy and the spatial variance of column moist static energy, where the column integral is performed between fixed pressure levels. The latter allows for the quantification of the different feedback processes responsible for the amplification of moist static energy anomalies associated with the organization of convection and cyclone spinup, including surface flux feedbacks and cloud-radiative feedbacks. Tropical cyclones (TCs) are tracked in the climate model simulations and the analysis is applied along the individual tracks and composited over many TCs. Two methods of compositing are employed: a composite over all TC snapshots in a given intensity range, and a composite over all TC snapshots at the same stage in the TC life cycle (same time relative to the time of lifetime maximum intensity for each storm). The radiative feedback contributes to TC development in all models, especially in storms of weaker intensity or earlier stages of development. Notably, the surface flux feedback is stronger in models that simulate more intense TCs. This indicates that the representation of the interaction between spatially varying surface fluxes and the developing TC is responsible for at least part of the intermodel spread in TC simulation.

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Eric D. Maloney, Andrew Gettelman, Yi Ming, J. David Neelin, Daniel Barrie, Annarita Mariotti, C.-C. Chen, Danielle R. B. Coleman, Yi-Hung Kuo, Bohar Singh, H. Annamalai, Alexis Berg, James F. Booth, Suzana J. Camargo, Aiguo Dai, Alex Gonzalez, Jan Hafner, Xianan Jiang, Xianwen Jing, Daehyun Kim, Arun Kumar, Yumin Moon, Catherine M. Naud, Adam H. Sobel, Kentaroh Suzuki, Fuchang Wang, Junhong Wang, Allison A. Wing, Xiaobiao Xu, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

Realistic climate and weather prediction models are necessary to produce confidence in projections of future climate over many decades and predictions for days to seasons. These models must be physically justified and validated for multiple weather and climate processes. A key opportunity to accelerate model improvement is greater incorporation of process-oriented diagnostics (PODs) into standard packages that can be applied during the model development process, allowing the application of diagnostics to be repeatable across multiple model versions and used as a benchmark for model improvement. A POD characterizes a specific physical process or emergent behavior that is related to the ability to simulate an observed phenomenon. This paper describes the outcomes of activities by the Model Diagnostics Task Force (MDTF) under the NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO) Modeling, Analysis, Predictions and Projections (MAPP) program to promote development of PODs and their application to climate and weather prediction models. MDTF and modeling center perspectives on the need for expanded process-oriented diagnosis of models are presented. Multiple PODs developed by the MDTF are summarized, and an open-source software framework developed by the MDTF to aid application of PODs to centers’ model development is presented in the context of other relevant community activities. The paper closes by discussing paths forward for the MDTF effort and for community process-oriented diagnosis.

Open access
Alexis Berg and Justin Sheffield

Abstract

Evapotranspiration (ET) is a key process affecting terrestrial hydroclimate, as it modulates the land surface carbon, energy, and water budgets. Evapotranspiration mainly consists of the sum of three components: plant transpiration, soil evaporation, and canopy interception. Here we investigate how the partitioning of ET into these three main components is represented in CMIP5 model simulations of present and future climate. A large spread exists between models in the simulated mean present-day partitioning; even the ranking of the different components in the global mean differs between models. Differences in the simulation of the vegetation leaf area index appear to be an important cause of this spread. Although ET partitioning is not accurately known globally, existing global estimates suggest that CMIP5 models generally underestimate the relative contribution of transpiration. Differences in ET partitioning lead to differences in climate characteristics over land, such as land–atmosphere fluxes and near-surface air temperature. On the other hand, CMIP5 models simulate robust patterns of future changes in ET partitioning under global warming, notably a marked contrast between decreased transpiration and increased soil evaporation in the tropics, whereas transpiration and evaporation both increase at higher latitudes and both decrease in the dry subtropics. Idealized CMIP5 simulations from a subset of models show that the decrease in transpiration in the tropics largely reflects the stomatal closure effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on plants (despite increased vegetation from CO2 fertilization), whereas changes at higher latitudes are dominated by radiative CO2 effects, with warming and increased precipitation leading to vegetation increase and simultaneous (absolute) increases in all three ET components.

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