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Josephine R. Brown
,
Christian Jakob
, and
John M. Haynes

Abstract

Observed regional rainfall characteristics can be analyzed by examining both the frequency and intensity of different categories of rainfall. A complementary approach is to consider rainfall characteristics associated with regional synoptic regimes. These two approaches are combined here to examine daily rainfall characteristics over the Australian region, providing a target for model simulations. Using gridded daily rainfall data for the period 1997–2007, rainfall at each grid point and averaged over several sites is decomposed into the frequency of rainfall events and the intensity of rainfall associated with each event. Daily sea level pressure is classified using a self-organizing map, and rainfall on corresponding days is assigned to the resulting synoptic regimes. This technique is then used to evaluate rainfall in the new Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator (ACCESS) global climate model and separate the influence of large-scale circulation errors and errors due to the representation of subgrid-scale physical processes. The model exhibits similar biases to many other global climate models, simulating too frequent light rainfall and heavy rainfall of insufficient intensity. These errors are associated with particular synoptic regimes over different sectors of the Australian continent and surrounding oceans. The model simulates only weak convective rainfall over land during the summer monsoon, and heavy rainfall associated with frontal systems over southern Australia is also not simulated. As the model captures the structure and frequency of synoptic patterns, but not the associated rainfall intensity or frequency, it is likely that the source of the rainfall errors lies in model physical parameterizations rather than large-scale dynamics.

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Yi Huang
,
Steven T. Siems
,
Michael J. Manton
,
Luke B. Hande
, and
John M. Haynes

Abstract

A climatology of the structure of the low-altitude cloud field (tops below 4 km) over the Southern Ocean (40°–65°S) in the vicinity of Australia (100°–160°E) has been constructed with CloudSat products for liquid water and ice water clouds. Averaging over longitude and time, CloudSat produces a roughly uniform cloud field between heights of approximately 750 and 2250 m across the extent of the domain for both winter and summer. This cloud field makes a transition from consisting primarily of liquid water at the lower latitudes to ice water at the higher latitudes. This transition is primarily driven by the gradient in the temperature, which is commonly between 0° and −20°C, rather than by direct physical observation.

The uniform lower boundary is a consequence of the CloudSat cloud detection algorithm being unable to reliably separate radar returns because of the bright surface versus returns due to clouds, in the lowest four range bins above the surface. This is potentially very problematic over the Southern Ocean where the depth of the boundary layer has been observed to be as shallow as 500 m. Cloud fields inferred from upper-air soundings at Macquarie Island (54.62°S, 158.85°E) similarly suggest that the peak frequency lies between 260 and 500 m for both summer and winter. No immediate explanation is available for the uniformity of the cloud-top boundary. This lack of a strong seasonal cycle is, perhaps, remarkable given the large seasonal cycles in both the shortwave (SW) radiative forcing experienced and the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentration over the Southern Ocean.

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Shannon Mason
,
Jennifer K. Fletcher
,
John M. Haynes
,
Charmaine Franklin
,
Alain Protat
, and
Christian Jakob

Abstract

A deficit of shortwave cloud forcing over the Southern Ocean is persistent in many global climate models. Cloud regimes have been widely used in model evaluation studies to make a process-oriented diagnosis of cloud parameterization errors, but cloud regimes have some limitations in resolving both observed and simulated cloud behavior. A hybrid methodology is developed for identifying cloud regimes from observed and simulated cloud simultaneously.

Through this methodology, 11 hybrid cloud regimes are identified in the ACCESS1.3 model for the high-latitude Southern Ocean. The hybrid cloud regimes resolve the features of observed cloud and characterize cloud errors in the model. The simulated properties of the hybrid cloud regimes, and their occurrence over the Southern Ocean and in the context of extratropical cyclones, are evaluated, and their contributions to the shortwave radiation errors are quantified.

Three errors are identified: an overall deficit of cloud fraction, a tendency toward optically thin low and midtopped cloud, and an absence of a shallow frontal-type cloud at high latitudes and in the warm fronts of extratropical cyclones.

To demonstrate the utility of the hybrid cloud regimes for the evaluation of changes to the model, the effects of selected changes to the model microphysics are investigated.

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John M. Haynes
,
Christian Jakob
,
William B. Rossow
,
George Tselioudis
, and
Josephine Brown

Abstract

Clouds over the Southern Ocean are often poorly represented by climate models, but they make a significant contribution to the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiation balance, particularly in the shortwave portion of the energy spectrum. This study seeks to better quantify the organization and structure of Southern Hemisphere midlatitude clouds by combining measurements from active and passive satellite-based datasets. Geostationary and polar-orbiter satellite data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) are used to quantify large-scale, recurring modes of cloudiness, and active observations from CloudSat and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) are used to examine vertical structure, radiative heating rates, and precipitation associated with these clouds. It is found that cloud systems are organized into eight distinct regimes and that ISCCP overestimates the midlevel cloudiness of these regimes. All regimes contain a relatively high occurrence of low cloud, with 79% of all cloud layers observed having tops below 3 km, but multiple-layered clouds systems are present in approximately 34% of observed cloud profiles. The spatial distribution of regimes varies according to season, with cloud systems being geometrically thicker, on average, during the austral winter. Those regimes found to be most closely associated with midlatitude cyclones produce precipitation the most frequently, although drizzle is extremely common in low-cloud regimes. The regimes associated with cyclones have the highest in-regime shortwave cloud radiative effect at the TOA, but the low-cloud regimes, by virtue of their high frequency of occurrence over the oceans, dominate both TOA and surface shortwave effects in this region as a whole.

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