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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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Robert Pincus, Cécile Hannay, and K. Franklin Evans

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Three-dimensional radiative transfer calculations are accurate, though computationally expensive, if the spatial distribution of cloud properties is known. The difference between these calculations and those using the much less expensive independent column approximation is called the 3D radiative transfer effect. Assessing the magnitude of this effect in the real atmosphere requires that many realistic cloud fields be obtained, and profiling instruments such as ground-based radars may provide the best long-term observations of cloud structure. Cloud morphology can be inferred from a time series of vertical profiles obtained from profilers by converting time to horizontal distance with an advection velocity, although this restricts variability to two dimensions. This paper assesses the accuracy of estimates of the 3D effect in shallow cumulus clouds when cloud structure is inferred in this way. Large-eddy simulations provide full three-dimensional, time-evolving cloud fields, which are sampled every 10 s to provide a “radar’s eye view” of the same cloud fields. The 3D effect for shortwave surface fluxes is computed for both sets of fields using a broadband Monte Carlo radiative transfer model, and intermediate calculations are made to identify reasons why estimates of the 3D effect differ in these fields. The magnitude of the 3D effect is systematically underestimated in the two-dimensional cloud fields because there are fewer cloud edges that cause the effect, while the random error in hourly estimates is driven by the limited sample observed by the profiling instrument.

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Brian Medeiros, David L. Williamson, Cécile Hannay, and Jerry G. Olson

Abstract

Forecasts of October 2006 are used to investigate southeast Pacific stratocumulus in the Community Atmosphere Model, versions 4 and 5 (CAM4 and CAM5). Both models quickly develop biases similar to their climatic biases, suggesting that parameterized physics are the root of the climate errors. An extensive cloud deck is produced in CAM4, but the cloud structure is unrealistic because the boundary layer is too shallow and moist. The boundary layer structure is improved in CAM5, but during the daytime the boundary layer decouples from the cloud layer, causing the cloud layer to break up and transition toward a more trade wind cumulus structure in the afternoon. The cloud liquid water budget shows how different parameterizations contribute to maintaining these different expressions of stratocumulus. Sensitivity experiments help elucidate the origins of the errors. The importance of the diurnal cycle of these clouds for climate simulations is emphasized.

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Brian Mapes, Julio Bacmeister, Marat Khairoutdinov, Cecile Hannay, and Ming Zhao

Abstract

High-resolution time–height data over warm tropical oceans are examined, from three global atmosphere models [GFDL’s Atmosphere Model 2 (AM2), NCAR’s Community Atmosphere Model, version 3 (CAM3), and a NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) model], field campaign observations, and observation-driven cloud model outputs. The character of rain events is shown in data samples and summarized in lagged regressions versus surface rain rate. The CAM3 humidity and cloud exhibit little vertical coherence among three distinct layers, and its rain events have a short characteristic time, reflecting the convection scheme’s penetrative nature and its closure’s concentrated sensitivity to a thin boundary layer source level. In contrast, AM2 rain variations have much longer time scales as convection scheme plumes whose entrainment gives them tops below 500 hPa interact with humidity variations in that layer. Plumes detraining at model levels above 500 hPa are restricted by cloud work function thresholds, and upper-tropospheric humidity and cloud layers fed by these are detached from the lower levels and are somewhat sporadic. With these discrete entrainment rates and instability thresholds, AM2 also produces some synthetic-looking noise (sharp features in height and time) on top of its slow rain variations. A distinctive feature of the NASA model is a separate anvil scheme, distinct from the main large-scale cloud scheme, fed by relaxed Arakawa–Schubert (RAS) plume ensemble convection (a different implementation than in AM2). Its variability is rich and vertically coherent, and involves a very strong vertical dipole component to its tropospheric heating variations, of both signs (limited-depth convective heating and top-heavy heating in strong deep events with significant nonconvective rain). Grid-scale saturation events occur in all three models, often without nonconvective surface rain, causing relatively rare episodes of large negative top-of-atmosphere cloud forcing. Overall, cloud forcing regressions show a mild net positive forcing by rain-correlated clouds in CAM3 and mild net cooling in the other models, as the residual of large canceling shortwave and longwave contributions.

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Alexander V. Matus, Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Jennifer E. Kay, Cecile Hannay, and Jean-Francois Lamarque

Abstract

Observational benchmarks of global and regional aerosol direct radiative effects, over all surfaces and all sky conditions, are generated using CloudSat’s new multisensor radiative fluxes and heating rates product. Improving upon previous techniques, the approach leverages the capability of CloudSat and CALIPSO to retrieve vertically resolved estimates of cloud and aerosol properties required for complete and accurate assessment of aerosol direct effects under all conditions. The global annually averaged aerosol direct radiative effect is estimated to be −1.9 W m−2 with an uncertainty range of ±0.6 W m−2, which is in better agreement with previously published estimates from global models than previous satellite-based estimates. Detailed comparisons against a fully coupled simulation of the Community Earth System Model, however, reveal that this agreement on the global annual mean masks large regional discrepancies between modeled and observed estimates of aerosol direct effects. A series of regional analyses demonstrate that, in addition to previously documented biases in simulated aerosol distributions, the magnitude and sign of these discrepancies are often related to model biases in the geographic and seasonal distribution of clouds. A low bias in stratocumulus cloud cover over the southeastern Pacific, for example, leads to an overestimate of the radiative effects of marine aerosols in the region. Likewise, errors in the seasonal cycle of low clouds in the southeastern Atlantic distort the radiative effects of biomass burning aerosols from southern Africa. These findings indicate that accurate assessment of aerosol direct effects requires models to correctly represent not only the source, strength, and optical properties of aerosols, but their relative proximity to clouds as well.

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Jennifer E. Kay, Casey Wall, Vineel Yettella, Brian Medeiros, Cecile Hannay, Peter Caldwell, and Cecilia Bitz

Abstract

A large, long-standing, and pervasive climate model bias is excessive absorbed shortwave radiation (ASR) over the midlatitude oceans, especially the Southern Ocean. This study investigates both the underlying mechanisms for and climate impacts of this bias within the Community Earth System Model, version 1, with the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 [CESM1(CAM5)]. Excessive Southern Ocean ASR in CESM1(CAM5) results in part because low-level clouds contain insufficient amounts of supercooled liquid. In a present-day atmosphere-only run, an observationally motivated modification to the shallow convection detrainment increases supercooled cloud liquid, brightens low-level clouds, and substantially reduces the Southern Ocean ASR bias. Tuning to maintain global energy balance enables reduction of a compensating tropical ASR bias. In the resulting preindustrial fully coupled run with a brighter Southern Ocean and dimmer tropics, the Southern Ocean cools and the tropics warm. As a result of the enhanced meridional temperature gradient, poleward heat transport increases in both hemispheres (especially the Southern Hemisphere), and the Southern Hemisphere atmospheric jet strengthens. Because northward cross-equatorial heat transport reductions occur primarily in the ocean (80%), not the atmosphere (20%), a proposed atmospheric teleconnection linking Southern Ocean ASR bias reduction and cooling with northward shifts in tropical precipitation has little impact. In summary, observationally motivated supercooled liquid water increases in shallow convective clouds enable large reductions in long-standing climate model shortwave radiation biases. Of relevance to both model bias reduction and climate dynamics, quantifying the influence of Southern Ocean cooling on tropical precipitation requires a model with dynamic ocean heat transport.

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Cécile Hannay, David L. Williamson, James J. Hack, Jeffrey T. Kiehl, Jerry G. Olson, Stephen A. Klein, Christopher S. Bretherton, and Martin Köhler

Abstract

Forecasts of southeast Pacific stratocumulus at 20°S and 85°W during the East Pacific Investigation of Climate (EPIC) cruise of October 2001 are examined with the ECMWF model, the Atmospheric Model (AM) from GFDL, the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) from NCAR, and the CAM with a revised atmospheric boundary layer formulation from the University of Washington (CAM-UW). The forecasts are initialized from ECMWF analyses and each model is run for 3–5 days to determine the differences with the EPIC field observations.

Observations during the EPIC cruise show a well-mixed boundary layer under a sharp inversion. The inversion height and the cloud layer have a strong and regular diurnal cycle. A key problem common to the models is that the planetary boundary layer (PBL) depth is too shallow when compared to EPIC observations. However, it is suggested that improved PBL depths are achieved with more physically realistic PBL schemes: at one end, CAM uses a dry and surface-driven PBL scheme and produces a very shallow PBL, while the ECWMF model uses an eddy-diffusivity/mass-flux approach and produces a deeper and better-mixed PBL. All the models produce a strong diurnal cycle in the liquid water path (LWP), but there are large differences in the amplitude and phase when compared to the EPIC observations. This, in turn, affects the radiative fluxes at the surface and the surface energy budget. This is particularly relevant for coupled simulations as this can lead to a large SST bias.

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Julio T. Bacmeister, Michael F. Wehner, Richard B. Neale, Andrew Gettelman, Cecile Hannay, Peter H. Lauritzen, Julie M. Caron, and John E. Truesdale

Abstract

Extended, high-resolution (0.23° latitude × 0.31° longitude) simulations with Community Atmosphere Model versions 4 and 5 (CAM4 and CAM5) are examined and compared with results from climate simulations conducted at a more typical resolution of 0.9° latitude × 1.25° longitude. Overall, the simulated climate of the high-resolution experiments is not dramatically better than that of their low-resolution counterparts. Improvements appear primarily where topographic effects may be playing a role, including a substantially improved summertime Indian monsoon simulation in CAM4 at high resolution. Significant sensitivity to resolution is found in simulated precipitation over the southeast United States during winter. Some aspects of the simulated seasonal mean precipitation deteriorate notably at high resolution. Prominent among these is an exacerbated Pacific “double ITCZ” bias in both models. Nevertheless, while large-scale seasonal means are not dramatically better at high resolution, realistic tropical cyclone (TC) distributions are obtained. Some skill in reproducing interannual variability in TC statistics also appears.

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Robert Wood, Matthew Wyant, Christopher S. Bretherton, Jasmine Rémillard, Pavlos Kollias, Jennifer Fletcher, Jayson Stemmler, Simone de Szoeke, Sandra Yuter, Matthew Miller, David Mechem, George Tselioudis, J. Christine Chiu, Julian A. L. Mann, Ewan J. O’Connor, Robin J. Hogan, Xiquan Dong, Mark Miller, Virendra Ghate, Anne Jefferson, Qilong Min, Patrick Minnis, Rabindra Palikonda, Bruce Albrecht, Ed Luke, Cecile Hannay, and Yanluan Lin

Abstract

The Clouds, Aerosol, and Precipitation in the Marine Boundary Layer (CAP-MBL) deployment at Graciosa Island in the Azores generated a 21-month (April 2009–December 2010) comprehensive dataset documenting clouds, aerosols, and precipitation using the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) Mobile Facility (AMF). The scientific aim of the deployment is to gain improved understanding of the interactions of clouds, aerosols, and precipitation in the marine boundary layer.

Graciosa Island straddles the boundary between the subtropics and midlatitudes in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and consequently experiences a great diversity of meteorological and cloudiness conditions. Low clouds are the dominant cloud type, with stratocumulus and cumulus occurring regularly. Approximately half of all clouds contained precipitation detectable as radar echoes below the cloud base. Radar and satellite observations show that clouds with tops from 1 to 11 km contribute more or less equally to surface-measured precipitation at Graciosa. A wide range of aerosol conditions was sampled during the deployment consistent with the diversity of sources as indicated by back-trajectory analysis. Preliminary findings suggest important two-way interactions between aerosols and clouds at Graciosa, with aerosols affecting light precipitation and cloud radiative properties while being controlled in part by precipitation scavenging.

The data from Graciosa are being compared with short-range forecasts made with a variety of models. A pilot analysis with two climate and two weather forecast models shows that they reproduce the observed time-varying vertical structure of lower-tropospheric cloud fairly well but the cloud-nucleating aerosol concentrations less well. The Graciosa site has been chosen to be a permanent fixed ARM site that became operational in October 2013.

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