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Jenny Lindvall, Gunilla Svensson, and Cecile Hannay

Abstract

This paper describes the performance of the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) versions 4 and 5 in simulating near-surface parameters. CAM is the atmospheric component of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Most of the parameterizations in the two versions are substantially different, and that is also true for the boundary layer scheme: CAM4 employs a nonlocal K-profile scheme, whereas CAM5 uses a turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) scheme. The evaluation focuses on the diurnal cycle and global observational and reanalysis datasets are used together with multiyear observations from 35 flux tower sites, providing high-frequency measurements in a range of different climate zones. It is found that both model versions capture the timing of the diurnal cycle but considerably overestimate the diurnal amplitude of net radiation, temperature, wind, and turbulent heat fluxes. The seasonal temperature range at mid- and high latitudes is also overestimated with too warm summer temperatures and too cold winter temperatures. The diagnosed boundary layer is deeper in CAM5 over ocean in regions with low-level marine clouds as a result of the turbulence generated by cloud-top cooling. Elsewhere, the boundary layer is in general shallower in CAM5. The two model versions differ substantially in their representation of near-surface wind speeds over land. The low-level wind speed in CAM5 is about half as strong as in CAM4, and the difference is even larger in areas where the subgrid-scale terrain is significant. The reason is the turbulent mountain stress parameterization, only applied in CAM5, which acts to increase the surface stress and thereby reduce the wind speed.

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