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Mao-Sung Yao and Ye Cheng

Abstract

The response of cloud simulations to turbulence parameterizations is studied systematically using the GISS general circulation model (GCM) E2 employed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Without the turbulence parameterization, the relative humidity (RH) and the low cloud cover peak unrealistically close to the surface; with the dry convection or with only the local turbulence parameterization, these two quantities improve their vertical structures, but the vertical transport of water vapor is still weak in the planetary boundary layers (PBLs); with both local and nonlocal turbulence parameterizations, the RH and low cloud cover have better vertical structures in all latitudes due to more significant vertical transport of water vapor in the PBL. The study also compares the cloud and radiation climatologies obtained from an experiment using a newer version of turbulence parameterization being developed at GISS with those obtained from the AR5 version. This newer scheme differs from the AR5 version in computing nonlocal transports, turbulent length scale, and PBL height and shows significant improvements in cloud and radiation simulations, especially over the subtropical eastern oceans and the southern oceans. The diagnosed PBL heights appear to correlate well with the low cloud distribution over oceans. This suggests that a cloud-producing scheme needs to be constructed in a framework that also takes the turbulence into consideration.

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Peter H. Stone and Mao-Sung Yao

Abstract

Vertical eddy fluxes of heat are calculated from simulations with a variety of climate models, ranging from three-dimensional GCMs to a one-dimensional radiative-convective model. The models’ total eddy flux in the lower troposphere is found to agree well with Hantel's analysis from observations, but in the mid- and upper troposphere the models’ values are systematically 30% to 50% smaller than Hantel's. The models nevertheless give very good results for the global temperature profile, and the reason for the discrepancy is unclear. The model results show that the manner in which the vertical eddy flux is carried is very sensitive to the parameterization of moist convection. When a moist adiabatic adjustment scheme with a critical value for the relative humidity of 100% is used, the vertical transports by large-scale eddies and small-scale convection on a global basis are equal; but when a penetrative convection scheme is used, the large-scale flux on a global basis is only about one-fifth to one-fourth the small-scale flux. Comparison of the model results with observations indicates that the results with the latter scheme are more realistic. However, even in this case, in mid- and high latitudes the large and small-scale vertical eddy fluxes of heat are comparable in magnitude above the planetary boundary layer.

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Mao-Sung Yao and Anthony D. Del Genio

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Climate changes obtained from five doubled CO2 experiments with different parameterizations of large-scale clouds and moist convection are studied by use of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) GCM at 4° lat × 5° long resolution. The baseline for the experiments is GISS Model II, which uses a diagnostic cloud scheme with fixed optical properties and a convection scheme with fixed cumulus mass fluxes and no downdrafts. The global and annual mean surface air temperature change (ΔT s) of 4.2°C obtained by using the Model II physics at 8° lat × 10° long resolution is reduced to 3.55°C at the finer resolution. This is due to a significant reduction of tropical cirrus clouds in the warmer climate when a finer resolution is used, despite the fact that the relative humidity increases there with a doubling of CO2. When the new moist convection parameterization of and prognostic large-scale cloud parameterization of are used, ΔT s is reduced to 3.09°C from 3.55°C. This is the net result of the inclusion of the feedback of cloud optical thickness and phase change of cloud water, and the presence of areally extensive cumulus anvil clouds. Without the optical thickness feedback, ΔT s is further reduced to 2.74°C, suggesting that this feedback is positive overall. Without anvil clouds, ΔT s is increased from 3.09° to 3.7°C, suggesting that anvil clouds of large optical thickness reduce the climate sensitivity. The net effect of using the new large-scale cloud parameterization without including the detrainment of convective cloud water is a slight increase of ΔT s from 3.56° to 3.7°C. The net effect of using the new moist convection parameterization without anvil clouds is insignificant (from 3.55° to 3.56°C). However, this is a result of a combination of many competing differences in other climate parameters. Despite the global cloud cover decrease simulated in most of the experiments, middle- and high-latitude continental cloudiness generally increases with warming, consistent with the sense of observed twentieth-century cloudiness trends; an indirect aerosol effect may therefore not be the sole explanation of these observations.

An analysis of climate sensitivity and changes in cloud radiative forcing (CRF) indicates that the cloud feedback is positive overall in all experiments except the one using the new moist convection and large-scale cloud parameterization with prescribed cloud optical thickness, for which the cloud feedback is nearly neutral. Differences in ΔCRF among the different experiments cannot reliably be anticipated by the analogous differences in current climate CRF. The meridional distribution of ΔCRF suggests that the cloud feedback is positive mostly in the low and midlatitudes, but in the high latitudes, the cloud feedback is mostly negative and the amplification of ΔT s is due to other processes, such as snow/ice–albedo feedback and changes in the lapse rate. The authors’ results suggest that when a sufficiently large variety of cloud feedback mechanisms are allowed for, significant cancellations between positive and negative feedbacks result, causing overall climate sensitivity to be less sensitive to uncertainties in poorly understood cloud physics. In particular, the positive low cloud optical thickness correlations with temperature observed in satellite data argue for a minimum climate sensitivity higher than the 1.5°C that is usually assumed.

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Peter H. Stone and Mao-Sung Yao

Abstract

A number of perpetual January simulations are carried out with a two-dimensional (2-D) zonally averaged model employing various parameterizations of the eddy fluxes of heat (potential temperature) and moisture. The parameterizations are evaluated by comparing these results with the eddy fluxes calculated in a parallel simulation using a three-dimensional (3-D) general circulation model with zonally symmetric forcing. The 3-D model's performance in turn is evaluated by comparing its results using realistic (nonsymmetric) boundary conditions with observations.

Branscome's parameterization of the meridional eddy flux of heat and Leovy's parameterization of the meridional eddy flux of moisture simulate the seasonal and latitudinal variations of these fluxes reasonably well, while somewhat underestimating their magnitudes. In particular, Branscome's parameterization underestimates the vertically integrated flux of heat by about 30%, mainly because it misses out the secondary peak in this flux near the tropopause; and Leovy's parameterization of the meridional eddy flux of moisture underestimates the magnitude of this flux by about 20%. The analogous parameterizations of the vertical eddy fluxes of heat and moisture are found to perform much more poorly, i.e., they give fluxes only one quarter to one half as strong as those calculated in the 3-D model. New parameterizations of the vertical eddy fluxes are developed that take into account the enhancement of the eddy mixing slope in a growing baroclinic wave due to condensation, and also the effect of eddy fluctuations in relative humidity. The new parameterizations, when tested in the 2-D model, simulate the seasonal, latitudinal, and vertical variations of the vertical eddy fluxes quite well, when compared with the 3-D model, and only underestimate the magnitude of the fluxes by 10% to 20%.

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Mao-Sung Yao and Anthony D. Del Genio

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An improved version of the GISS Model II cumulus parameterization designed for long-term climate integrations is used to study the effects of entrainment and multiple cloud types on the January climate simulation. Instead of prescribing convective mass as a fixed fraction of the cloud base grid-box mass, it is calculated based on the closure assumption that the cumulus convection restores 0the atmosphere to a neutral most convective state at cloud base. This change alone significantly improves the distribution of precipitation, convective mass exchanges and frequencies in the January climate. The vertical structure of the tropical atmosphere exhibits quasi-equilibrium behavior when this closure is used, even though there is no explicit constraint applied above cloud base. Global aspects of the simulation using the neutral buoyancy closure are almost identical to those obtained in a previous study with a closure relating cumulus mass flux explicitly to large-scale forcing.

A prescription of 0.2 km−1 for the fractional rate of entrainment lower the peak of the convective heating profile, reduces equatorial specific humidifies in the upper atmosphere to more realistic values, and greatly increases eddy kinetic energy at the equator due to reduced momentum mixing. With two cloud types per convective event, each cloud type having a prescribed size and entrainment rate, a clear bimodal distribution of convective mass flux is obtained in strong convective events. At the same time, many of the desirable climate features produced by the neutral buoyancy and entrainment experiments are preserved.

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Mao-Sung Yao and Anthony D. Del Genio

Abstract

The influence of the sea surface temperature distribution on cloud feedbacks is studied by making two sets of doubled CO2 experiments with the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) GCM at 4° latitude × 5° longitude resolution. One set uses Q fluxes obtained by prescribing observed sea surface temperatures (MODELII′), and the other set uses Q fluxes obtained by prescribing the simulated sea surface temperature of a coupled ocean–atmosphere model (MODELIIO). The global and annual mean surface air temperature change (ΔT s) obtained in MODELII′ is reduced from 4.11° to 3.02°C in MODELIIO. This reduced sensitivity, aside from reduced sea ice/snow–albedo feedback, is mainly due to cloud feedback that becomes nearly neutral in MODELIIO. Furthermore, the negative effect on climate sensitivity of anvil clouds of large optical thickness identified by Yao and Del Genio changes its sign in MODELIIO primarily due to sharply reduced increases of cloud water in the tropical upper troposphere. Colder tropical sea surface temperature in MODELIIO results in weaker deep convective activity and a more humid lower atmosphere in the warmer climate relative to MODELII′, which then removes the negative feedback of anvil clouds and sharply reduces the positive feedback of low clouds. However, an overall positive cloud optical thickness feedback is still maintained in MODELIIO.

It is suggested that the atmospheric climate sensitivity, partially due to changes in cloud feedbacks, may be significantly different for climate changes associated with different patterns of sea surface temperature change, as for example in warm versus cold paleoclimate epochs. Likewise, the climate sensitivity in coupled atmosphere–ocean models is also likely to be significantly different from the results obtained in Q-flux models due to the different simulations of sea surface temperature patterns in each type of model.

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Anthony D. Del Genio, Yonghua Chen, Daehyun Kim, and Mao-Sung Yao
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Anthony D. Del Genio, William Kovari, Mao-Sung Yao, and Jeffrey Jonas

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Precipitation processes in convective storms are potentially a major regulator of cloud feedback. An unresolved issue is how the partitioning of convective condensate between precipitation-size particles that fall out of updrafts and smaller particles that are detrained to form anvil clouds will change as the climate warms. Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observations of tropical oceanic convective storms indicate higher precipitation efficiency at warmer sea surface temperature (SST) but also suggest that cumulus anvil sizes, albedos, and ice water paths become insensitive to warming at high temperatures. International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) data show that instantaneous cirrus and deep convective cloud fractions are positively correlated and increase with SST except at the highest temperatures, but are sensitive to variations in large-scale vertical velocity. A simple conceptual model based on a Marshall–Palmer drop size distribution, empirical terminal velocity–particle size relationships, and assumed cumulus updraft speeds reproduces the observed tendency for detrained condensate to approach a limiting value at high SST. These results suggest that the climatic behavior of observed tropical convective clouds is intermediate between the extremes required to support the thermostat and adaptive iris hypotheses.

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Anthony D. Del Genio, Yonghua Chen, Daehyun Kim, and Mao-Sung Yao

Abstract

The relationship between convective penetration depth and tropospheric humidity is central to recent theories of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). It has been suggested that general circulation models (GCMs) poorly simulate the MJO because they fail to gradually moisten the troposphere by shallow convection and simulate a slow transition to deep convection. CloudSat and Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) data are analyzed to document the variability of convection depth and its relation to water vapor during the MJO transition from shallow to deep convection and to constrain GCM cumulus parameterizations. Composites of cloud occurrence for 10 MJO events show the following anticipated MJO cloud structure: shallow and congestus clouds in advance of the peak, deep clouds near the peak, and upper-level anvils after the peak. Cirrus clouds are also frequent in advance of the peak. The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (EOS) (AMSR-E) column water vapor (CWV) increases by ~5 mm during the shallow–deep transition phase, consistent with the idea of moisture preconditioning. Echo-top height of clouds rooted in the boundary layer increases sharply with CWV, with large variability in depth when CWV is between ~46 and 68 mm. International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project cloud classifications reproduce these climatological relationships but correctly identify congestus-dominated scenes only about half the time. A version of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Model E2 (GISS-E2) GCM with strengthened entrainment and rain evaporation that produces MJO-like variability also reproduces the shallow–deep convection transition, including the large variability of cloud-top height at intermediate CWV values. The variability is due to small grid-scale relative humidity and lapse rate anomalies for similar values of CWV.

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Anthony D. Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao, William Kovari, and Kenneth K-W. Lo

Abstract

An efficient new prognostic cloud water parameterization designed for use in global climate models is described. The scheme allows for life cycle effects in stratiform clouds and permits cloud optical properties to be determined interactively. The parameterization contains representations of all important microphysical processes, including autoconversion, accretion, Bergeron–Findeisen diffusional growth, and cloud/rain water evaporation. Small-scale dynamical processes, including detrainment of convective condensate, cloud-top entrainment instability, and stability-dependent cloud physical thickness variations, are also taken into account. Cloud optical thickness is calculated from the predicted liquid/ice water path and a variable droplet effective radius estimated by assuming constant droplet number concentration. Microphysical and radiative properties are assumed to be different for liquid and ice clouds, and for liquid clouds over land and ocean.

The parameterization is validated in several simulations using the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) general circulation model (GCM). Comparisons are made with a variety of datasets, including ERBE radiative fluxes and cloud forcing, ISCCP and surface-observed cloud properties, SSM/I liquid water path, and SAGE II thin cirrus cover. Validation is judged on the basis of the model's depiction of both the mean state; diurnal, seasonal, and interannual variability; and the temperature dependence of cloud properties. Relative to the diagnostic cloud scheme used in the previous GISS GCM, the prognostic parameterization strengthens the model's hydrologic cycle and general circulation, both directly and indirectly (via increased cumulus heating). Sea surface temperature (SST) perturbation experiments produce low climate sensitivity and slightly negative cloud feedback for globally uniform SST changes, but high sensitivity and positive cloud feedback when tropical Pacific SST gradients weaken with warming. Changes in the extent and optical thickness of tropical cumulus anvils appear to be the primary factor determining the sensitivity. This suggests that correct simulations of upward transport of convective condensate and of Walker circulation changes are of the highest priority for a realistic estimate of cloud feedback in actual greenhouse gas increase scenarios.

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