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Todd D. Ringler
and
David A. Randall

Abstract

Using the shallow water equations, a numerical framework on a spherical geodesic grid that conserves domain-integrated mass, potential vorticity, potential enstrophy, and total energy is developed. The numerical scheme is equally applicable to hexagonal grids on a plane and to spherical geodesic grids. This new numerical scheme is compared to its predecessor and it is shown that the new scheme does considerably better in conserving potential enstrophy and energy. Furthermore, in a simulation of geostrophic turbulence, the new numerical scheme produces energy and enstrophy spectra with slopes of approximately K −3 and K −1, respectively, where K is the total wavenumber. These slopes are in agreement with theoretical predictions. This work also exhibits a discrete momentum equation that is compatible with the Z-grid vorticity-divergence equation.

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Michael D. Toy
and
David A. Randall

Abstract

The isentropic system of equations has particular advantages in the numerical modeling of weather and climate. These include the elimination of the vertical velocity in adiabatic flow, which simplifies the motion to a two-dimensional problem and greatly reduces the numerical errors associated with vertical advection. The mechanism for the vertical transfer of horizontal momentum is simply the pressure drag acting on isentropic coordinate surfaces under frictionless, adiabatic conditions. In addition, vertical resolution is enhanced in regions of high static stability, which leads to better resolution of features such as the tropopause. Negative static stability and isentropic overturning frequently occur in finescale atmospheric motion. This presents a challenge to nonhydrostatic modeling with the isentropic vertical coordinate. This paper presents a new nonhydrostatic atmospheric model based on a generalized vertical coordinate. The coordinate is specified in a manner similar to that of Konor and Arakawa, but “arbitrary Eulerian–Lagrangian” (ALE) methods are used to maintain coordinate monotonicity in regions of negative static stability and to return the coordinate surfaces to their isentropic “targets” in statically stable regions. The model is mass conserving and implements a vertical differencing scheme that satisfies two additional integral constraints for the limiting case of z coordinates. The hybrid vertical coordinate model is tested with mountain-wave experiments including a downslope windstorm with breaking gravity waves. The results show that the advantages of the isentropic coordinate are realized in the model with regard to vertical tracer and momentum transport. Also, the isentropic overturning associated with the wave breaking is successfully handled by the coordinate formulation.

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Todd D. Ringler
and
David A. Randall

Abstract

Shallow-water equations discretized on a perfect hexagonal grid are analyzed using both a momentum formulation and a vorticity-divergence formulation. The vorticity-divergence formulation uses the unstaggered Z grid that places mass, vorticity, and divergence at the centers of the hexagons. The momentum formulation uses the staggered ZM grid that places mass at the centers of the hexagons and velocity at the corners of the hexagons. It is found that the Z grid and the ZM grid are identical in their simulation of the physical modes relevant to geostrophic adjustment. Consistent with the continuous system, the simulated inertia–gravity wave phase speeds increase monotonically with increasing total wavenumber and, thus, all waves have nonzero group velocities.

Since a grid of hexagons has twice as many corners as it has centers, the ZM grid has twice as many velocity points as it has mass points. As a result, the ZM-grid velocity field is discretized at a higher resolution than the mass field and, therefore, resolves a larger region of wavenumber space than the mass field. We solve the ∇2 f = λf eigenvalue problem with periodic boundary conditions on both the Z grid and ZM grid to determine the modes that can exist on each grid. The mismatch between mass and momentum leads to computational modes in the velocity field. Two techniques that can be used to control these computational modes are discussed. One technique is to use a dissipation operator that captures or “sees” the smallest-scale variations in the velocity field. The other technique is to invert elliptic equations in order to filter the high wavenumber part of the momentum field.

Results presented here lead to the conclusion that the ZM grid is an attractive alternative to the Z grid, and might be particularly useful for ocean modeling.

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Todd D. Ringler
,
Ross P. Heikes
, and
David A. Randall

Abstract

This paper documents the development and testing of a new type of atmospheric dynamical core. The model solves the vorticity and divergence equations in place of the momentum equation. The model is discretized in the horizontal using a geodesic grid that is nearly uniform over the entire globe. The geodesic grid is formed by recursively bisecting the triangular faces of a regular icosahedron and projecting those new vertices onto the surface of the sphere. All of the analytic horizontal operators are reduced to line integrals, which are numerically evaluated with second-order accuracy. In the vertical direction the model can use a variety of coordinate systems, including a generalized sigma coordinate that is attached to the top of the boundary layer. Terms related to gravity wave propagation are isolated and an efficient semi-implicit time-stepping scheme is implemented. Since this model combines many of the positive attributes of both spectral models and conventional finite-difference models into a single dynamical core, it represents a distinctively new approach to modeling the atmosphere’s general circulation.

The model is tested using the idealized forcing proposed by Held and Suarez. Results are presented for simulations using 2562 polygons (approximately 4.5° × 4.5°) and using 10 242 polygons (approximately 2.25° × 2.25°). The results are compared to those obtained with spectral model simulations truncated at T30 and T63. In terms of first and second moments of state variables such as the zonal wind, meridional wind, and temperature, the geodesic grid model results using 2562 polygons are comparable to those of a spectral model truncated at slightly less than T30, while a simulation with 10 242 polygons is comparable to a spectral model simulation truncated at slightly less than T63.

In order to further demonstrate the viability of this modeling approach, preliminary results obtained from a full-physics general circulation model that uses this dynamical core are presented. The dominant features of the DJF climate are captured in the full-physics simulation.

In terms of computational efficiency, the geodesic grid model is somewhat slower than the spectral model used for comparison. Model timings completed on an SGI Origin 2000 indicate that the geodesic grid model with 10 242 polygons is 20% slower than the spectral model truncated at T63. The geodesic grid model is more competitive at higher resolution than at lower resolution, so further optimization and future trends toward higher resolution should benefit the geodesic grid model.

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