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  • Author or Editor: J. E. Kristjánsson x
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P. J. Rasch and J. E. Kristjánsson


A parameterization is introduced for the prediction of cloud water in the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate Model version 3 (CCM3). The new parameterization makes a much closer connection between the meteorological processes that determine condensate formation and the condensate amount. The parameterization removes some constraints from the simulation by allowing a substantially wider range of variation in condensate amount than in the standard CCM3 and tying the condensate amount to local physical processes. The parameterization also allows cloud drops to form prior to the onset of grid-box saturation and can require a significant length of time to convert condensate to a precipitable form, or to remove the condensate. The free parameters of the scheme were adjusted to provide reasonable agreement with top of atmosphere and surface fluxes of energy. The parameterization was evaluated by a comparison with satellite and in situ measures of liquid and ice cloud amounts. The effect of the parameterization on the model simulation was then examined by comparing long model simulations to a similar run with the standard CCM and through comparison with climatologies based upon meteorological observations.

Global ice and liquid water burdens are higher in the revised model than in the control simulation, with an accompanying increase in height of the center of mass of cloud water. Zonal averages of cloud water contents were 20%–50% lower near the surface and much higher above. The range of variation of cloud water contents is much broader in the new parameterization but was still not as large as measurements suggest. Differences in the simulation were generally small. The largest significant changes found to the simulation were seen in polar regions (winter in the Arctic and all seasons in the Antarctic). The new parameterization significantly changes the Northern Hemisphere winter distribution of cloud water and improves the simulation of temperature and cloud amount there. Small changes were introduced in the cloud fraction to improve consistency of the meteorological parameterizations and to attempt to alleviate problems in the model (in particular, in the marine stratocumulus regime). The small changes did not make any appreciable improvement to the model simulation.

The new parameterization adds significantly to the flexibility in the model and the scope of problems that can be addressed. Such a scheme is needed for a reasonable treatment of scavenging of atmospheric trace constituents, and cloud aqueous or surface chemistry. The addition of a more realistic condensate parameterization provides opportunities for a closer connection between radiative properties of the clouds, and their formation and dissipation. These processes must be treated for many problems of interest today (e.g., anthropogenic aerosol–climate interactions).

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