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Christian Jakob

The parameterization schemes used to represent clouds in general circulation models have significantly evolved in their complexity over the last 10 yr. This increases the demand for a thorough evaluation of their performance. Several techniques ranging from the evaluation of the model climate to single column modeling have been proposed for that purpose. This paper aims to provide a strategy for an improved, more coherent use of these techniques. An overview of the different techniques is given using examples from the evaluation of the global model of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Advantages and disadvantages of the individual methods are highlighted. The paper closes by proposing a strategy to join the different techniques into a coherent procedure of cloud parameterization evaluation.

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Christian Jakob

Abstract

Data from reanalyses recently carried out by several climate and numerical weather prediction centers will find a variety of applications in different branches of atmospheric science. A careful evaluation of the many aspects of these datasets is a prerequisite for their successful use.

This paper describes the implementation of a fully prognostic cloud scheme into the ECMWF reanalysis system and provides a first assessment of the simulation of cloud cover by comparing it with monthly mean cloud cover derived from satellite observations in the context of the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project for the years 1983–90. Special emphasis is put on the major cloud regimes and their intra- and interannual variation.

The main deficiencies identified are an underestimation of extratropical cloud cover over the oceans by 10%–15%, an overestimation of trade wind cumulus cover by about 10%–15%, an underestimation of stratocumulus off the west coasts of the subtropical continents by 15%, and an underestimation of the summer maximum in cloud cover over the Eurasian continent. Despite these deficiencies it is shown that the reanalysis system is able to capture the main aspects of the interannual variability, especially those connected to the major El Niño events in the observation period.

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Christian Jakob

Meeting societal needs in weather, seasonal, and decadal prediction and climate projection requires a continuous improvement of the main tools used in making the predictions—global models of the Earth system. Despite significant progress in model development over the past few decades, several long-standing model systematic errors remain in most global models. This essay analyzes the model development process with the aim to identify a strategy to accelerate model development. It is argued that the main effort in doing so must focus on two main areas: i) improved diagnostic techniques that are aimed directly at identifying the key process involved in the major model errors and ii) a significant increase in the size of the currently too-small model development community through better collaboration of the academic community with modeling centers and through improving the image of the science of model development in the broader community. Success will strongly depend on the ability of bringing several communities together to work jointly in large national and international research programs.

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Christian Jakob and Courtney Schumacher

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An objective tropical cloud regime classification based on daytime averaged cloud-top pressure and optical thickness information from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) is combined with precipitation and latent heating characteristics derived using the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Precipitation Radar (PR). TRMM precipitation information is stratified into the ISCCP regimes in the tropical western Pacific (TWP), revealing the following three major precipitation regimes: a heavy (12 mm day−1) precipitation regime dominated by stratiform precipitation and top-heavy latent heating; a regime with moderate (5 mm day−1) precipitation amounts, mostly convective in nature with more midlevel latent heating; and a low (2 mm day−1) precipitation regime with a relatively large rain contribution from shallow convection, compared to the other regimes. Although three of the ISCCP cloud regimes are linked to the more convective, moderate precipitation regime, only one of the cloud regimes is associated with the more stratiform, top-heavy latent heating regime, making the ISCCP regimes a potentially useful tool for the further study of this dynamically important tropical weather state. Similarly, only one cloud regime is associated with the more shallow convective precipitation regime.

In terms of the TWP, precipitation and latent heating are dominated by the relatively infrequent (15%) occurrence of the strongly precipitating top-heavy latent heating state and by the frequent (>30%) occurrence of one of the more moderately precipitating convective states. The low precipitation/shallow cumulus regime occurs often (i.e., 25% of the time) but does not contribute strongly to the overall precipitation and latent heating. Each of these regimes also shows distinct geographical patterns in the TWP, thus providing insight into the distribution of convective and stratiform rain across the tropics. This study confirms the potential usefulness of the objective regime classification based on ISCCP, and it opens several new avenues for studying the interaction of convection with the large-scale tropical circulation.

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Christian Jakob and A. Pier Siebesma

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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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Stephen A. Klein and Christian Jakob

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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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Malcolm J. King and Christian Jakob

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Convection over the western equatorial Indian Ocean (WEIO) is strongly linked to precipitation over Africa and Australia but is poorly represented in current climate models, and its observed seasonal cycle is poorly understood. This study investigates the seasonal cycle of convection in the WEIO through rainfall and cloud measurements. Rainfall shows a single annual peak in early austral summer, but cloud proxies identify convective activity maxima in both boreal and austral summer. These diverging measures of convection during boreal summer are indicative of a reduction in the intensity of precipitation associated with a given cloud regime or cloud-top height during this time of year but an increase in the overall occurrence of high-top clouds and convectively active cloud regimes. The change in precipitation intensity associated with regimes is found to explain most of the changes in total precipitation during the period from May to November, whereas changes in the occurrence of convective regimes explains most of the changes throughout the rest of the year. The reduction in precipitation intensities associated with cloud regimes over the WEIO during boreal summer appears to be related to large-scale monsoon circulations, which suppress convection through forcing air descent in the midtroposphere and increase the apparent occurrence of convectively active cloud regimes through the advection of high-level cloud from monsoon-active areas toward the WEIO region.

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Jean-Jacques Morcrette and Christian Jakob

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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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Jennifer Fletcher, Shannon Mason, and Christian Jakob

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A comparison of marine cold air outbreaks (MCAOs) in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is presented, with attention to their seasonality, frequency of occurrence, and strength as measured by a cold air outbreak index. When considered on a gridpoint-by-gridpoint basis, MCAOs are more severe and more frequent in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) than the Southern Hemisphere (SH) in winter. However, when MCAOs are viewed as individual events regardless of horizontal extent, they occur more frequently in the SH. This is fundamentally because NH MCAOs are larger and stronger than those in the SH. MCAOs occur throughout the year, but in warm seasons and in the SH they are smaller and weaker than in cold seasons and in the NH. In both hemispheres, strong MCAOs occupy the cold air sector of midlatitude cyclones, which generally appear to be in their growth phase. Weak MCAOs in the SH occur under generally zonal flow with a slight northward component associated with weak zonal pressure gradients, while weak NH MCAOs occur under such a wide range of conditions that no characteristic synoptic pattern emerges from compositing. Strong boundary layer deepening, warming, and moistening occur as a result of the surface heat fluxes within MCAOs.

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Mick Pope, Christian Jakob, and Michael J. Reeder
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