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Stephen A. Klein
and
Christian Jakob

Abstract

Clouds simulated by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model are composited to derive the typical organization of clouds surrounding a midlatitude baroclinic system. Comparison of this composite of about 200 cyclones with that based on satellite data reveals that the ECMWF model quite accurately simulates the general positioning of clouds relative to a low pressure center. However, the optical depths of the model’s high/low clouds are too small/large relative to the satellite observations, and the model lacks the midlevel topped clouds observed to the west of the surface cold front.

Sensitivity studies with the ECMWF model reveal that the error in high-cloud optical depths is more sensitive to the assumptions applied to the ice microphysics than to the inclusion of cloud advection or a change of horizontal resolution from 0.5625° to 1.69° lat. This reflects the fact that in the ECMWF model gravitational settling is the most rapid process controlling the abundance of ice in the high clouds of midlatitude cyclones. These results underscore the need for careful evaluation of the parameterizations of microphysics and radiative properties applied to ice in large-scale models.

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Christian Jakob
and
A. Pier Siebesma

Abstract

All convection parameterizations in models of the atmosphere include a decision tree to decide on at least the occurrence, and often the type, of convection in a model grid volume. This decision tree is sometimes referred to as the “trigger function.” This study investigates the role that the decision-making processes play in the simulation of convection in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts global forecast model.

For this purpose, a new simple parcel-ascent model based on an entraining plume model is developed to replace the currently used undilute ascent in the initial decision making. The consequences of the use of the more realistic model for the behavior of convection itself and its impact on the model climate are investigated. It is shown that there are profound changes to both the convection characteristics, and consequently, the model climate. The wider implications of the findings here for the general design of a mass-flux convection parameterization are discussed.

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Jean-Jacques Morcrette
and
Christian Jakob

Abstract

The role of the cloud overlap assumption (COA) in organizing the cloud distribution through its impact on the vertical heating/cooling rate profile by radiative and precipitative/evaporative processes is studied in a series of experiments with a recent version of the ECMWF general circulation model, which includes a prognostic cloud scheme.

First, the radiative forcing initially obtained for different COAs (maximum, MAX; maximum-random, MRN;and random, RAN overlap) is discussed from results of one-dimensional radiation-only computations. Ensembles of TL95 L31 simulations for the winter 1987/88 (November–December–January–February) are then used, with the three different overlap assumptions applied on radiation only (RAD), evaporation/precipitation only (EP), or both (EPR). In RAD and EPR simulations, the main effect of a change in COA is felt by the model through the change in radiative heating profile, which affects in turn most aspects of the energy and hydrological budget. However, the role of the COA on the precipitation/evaporation, albeit smaller, is not negligible. In terms of radiative fluxes at the top and surface in the RAD and EPR simulations, RAN differs much more from MRN than MAX does, showing that for this vertical resolution, the majority of the clouds appear more in contiguous layers than as independent layers.

Given the large sensitivity of both the model total cloud cover and surface and top-of-the-atmosphere radiation fields to the cloud overlap assumption used in the radiation and cloud scheme, it is very important that these quantities are not validated independently of each other, and of the radiative cloud overlap assumption. The cloud overlap assumption for precipitation processes should be made consistent with that for radiation.

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Simon Caine
,
Christian Jakob
,
Steven Siems
, and
Peter May

Abstract

A clustering algorithm was applied to Frequency with Altitude Diagrams (FADs) derived from 4 yr of hourly radar data to objectively define four tropical precipitation regimes that occur during the wet season over Darwin Australia. The precipitation regimes defined are distinguished in terms of convective intensity, presence of stratiform precipitation, and precipitation coverage. Regime 1 consists of patchy convection of medium intensity and low area coverage, and regime 2 contains strong convection with relatively small area coverage. Regime 3 is composed of weak convection with large area coverage and large stratiform regions, and regime 4 contains strong convection with large area coverage and large stratiform regions. Analysis of the seasonal cycle, diurnal cycle, and regime occurrence as a function of monsoon activity all provide insight into the different physical character of the precipitation regimes. Two of the regimes exhibit a diurnal cycle with a peak in the afternoon, while the other two show a peak in their frequency of occurrence in the early morning. The different character of the regimes is also confirmed by the varying contributions that convective and stratiform rainfall make to the overall within-regime precipitation.

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Kathrin Wapler
,
Todd P. Lane
,
Peter T. May
,
Christian Jakob
,
Michael J. Manton
, and
Steven T. Siems

Abstract

Nested cloud-system-resolving model simulations of tropical convective clouds observed during the recent Tropical Warm Pool-International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE) are conducted using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. The WRF model is configured with a highest-resolving domain that uses 1.3-km grid spacing and is centered over Darwin, Australia. The performance of the model in simulating two different convective regimes observed during TWP-ICE is considered. The first regime is characteristic of the active monsoon, which features widespread cloud cover that is similar to maritime convection. The second regime is a monsoon break, which contains intense localized systems that are representative of diurnally forced continental convection. Many aspects of the model performance are considered, including their sensitivity to physical parameterizations and initialization time, and the spatial statistics of rainfall accumulations and the rain-rate distribution. While the simulations highlight many challenges and difficulties in correctly modeling the convection in the two regimes, they show that provided the mesoscale environment is adequately reproduced by the model, the statistics of the simulated rainfall agrees reasonably well with the observations.

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Simon Caine
,
Todd P. Lane
,
Peter T. May
,
Christian Jakob
,
Steven T. Siems
,
Michael J. Manton
, and
James Pinto

Abstract

This study presents a method for comparing convection-permitting model simulations to radar observations using an innovative object-based approach. The method uses the automated cell-tracking algorithm, Thunderstorm Identification Tracking Analysis and Nowcasting (TITAN), to identify individual convective cells and determine their properties. Cell properties are identified in the same way for model and radar data, facilitating comparison of their statistical distributions. The method is applied to simulations of tropical convection during the Tropical Warm Pool-International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE) using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model, and compared to data from a ground-based radar. Simulations with different microphysics and model resolution are also conducted. Among other things, the comparisons between the model and the radar elucidate model errors in the depth and size of convective cells. On average, simulated convective cells reached higher altitudes than the observations. Also, when using a low reflectivity (25 dBZ) threshold to define convective cells, the model underestimates the size of the largest cells in the observed population. Some of these differences are alleviated with a change of microphysics scheme and higher model resolution, demonstrating the utility of this method for assessing model changes.

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Vickal V. Kumar
,
Alain Protat
,
Peter T. May
,
Christian Jakob
,
Guillaume Penide
,
Sushil Kumar
, and
Laura Davies

Abstract

Two seasons of Darwin, Australia, C-band polarimetric (CPOL) research radar, radiosoundings, and lightning data are examined to study the relative influence of the large-scale atmospheric regimes and the underlying surface types on tropical convective cloud properties and their diurnal evolution. The authors find that in the “deep westerly” regime, which corresponds to the monsoon period, the convective cloud occurrence rate is highest, consistent with its highest relative humidity. However, these convective clouds have relatively low cloud-top heights, smaller-than-average cell volumes, and are electrically least active. In this regime, the cloud cell volume does not vary significantly across different underlying surfaces and afternoon convective activity is suppressed. Thus, the picture emerging is that the convective cloud activity in the deep westerly regime is primarily regulated by the large-scale conditions. The remaining regimes (“easterly,” “shallow westerly,” and “moist easterly”) also demonstrate strong dependence on the large-scale forcing and a secondary dependence on the underlying surface type. The easterly regime has a small convective cloud occurrence rate and low cloud heights but higher lightning counts per convective cloud. The other two regimes have moderate convective cloud occurrence rates and larger cloud sizes. The easterly, shallow westerly, and moist easterly regimes exhibit a strong, clearly defined semidiurnal convective cloud occurrence pattern, with peaks in the early morning and afternoon periods. The cell onset times in these three regimes depend on the combination of local time and the underlying surface.

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