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Leon D. Rotstayn

Abstract

The climate sensitivity of the CSIRO Global Climate Model is investigated using uniform sea surface temperature perturbation experiments. One experiment (denoted DIAG) uses a diagnostic treatment of clouds, with fixed cloud radiative properties that vary with height. The other experiment (denoted CTRL) uses a recently introduced prognostic treatment of stratiform clouds, with interactive calculation of cloud radiative properties.

The DIAG experiment has a positive shortwave (SW) cloud feedback and a negative longwave (LW) feedback, due to an overall reduction of midlevel and high cloudiness in the warmer climate. The signs of both the SW and LW feedbacks are opposite in the CTRL experiment due to an overall increase of cloud water content in the warmer climate. Because of cancellation between the SW and LW components, there is not a large difference in the net cloud feedback between the two experiments, with both having a modest negative cloud feedback, as measured by the change in cloud radiative forcing.

The CTRL experiment has a larger clear-sky climate sensitivity than the DIAG experiment. Off-line radiative calculations are used to show that this is primarily because of a stronger water vapor feedback. This is caused by differences in upper-tropospheric cloud radiative forcing that give a stronger upward shift of the tropopause on warming when the prognostic scheme is used. A sensitivity test shows that an artificial restriction on the maximum height of high clouds that exists in the diagnostic scheme is the reason for the different behavior.

The robustness of the result obtained in the CTRL experiment is investigated via 18 perturbation experiments, in which key parameters in the prognostic cloud scheme are varied, while retaining the overall approach used in the CTRL experiment. As far as possible, theory and observations are used to constrain the ranges within which these parameters are varied. It is found that the behavior of the scheme under climate change is generally robust, with no statistically significant changes in LW cloud feedback and only modest changes in SW cloud feedback. Overall, larger differences (both in control climate and in climate sensitivity) result from parameter changes that affect cloud formation than from changes that affect precipitation processes or cloud radiative properties.

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D. Leon and G. Vali

Abstract

A technique has been developed for the retrieval of three-dimensional particle velocities from Doppler data obtained with an airborne radar. The 95-GHz radar was mounted on the University of Wyoming KingAir aircraft. The retrieval technique is derived from the velocity azimuth display (VAD) analysis and is termed the airborne velocity azimuth display (AVAD). Data for this analysis are taken when the radar beam is scanned by the turning of the aircraft. As in VAD analysis, a functional form for the horizontal variation of the velocity of the scatterers must be assumed. The components of the velocity field are then determined using a least squares fit to the Doppler velocities. The AVAD technique differs from VAD analysis because of the mobility of the platform and its proximity to regions of interest, and it is due to geometric considerations dictated by the turning of the aircraft. The analysis region is only a few kilometers in diameter—considerably smaller than for a ground-based VAD analysis. This reduces the required area of cloud coverage and the importance of horizontal variations in the wind field. However, the reduced analysis area also limits the accuracy with which higher-order characteristics of the wind field, such as divergence, can be resolved.

This paper presents the AVAD technique and describes the data processing required. Results from multiple AVAD analyses from flights on two days are presented and are shown to be in generally good agreement with winds measured by sensors on board the KingAir.

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Leon D. Rotstayn and Yangang Liu

Abstract

Observations show that an increase in anthropogenic aerosols leads to concurrent increases in the cloud droplet concentration and the relative dispersion of the cloud droplet spectrum, other factors being equal. It has been suggested that the increase in effective radius resulting from increased relative dispersion may substantially negate the indirect aerosol effect, but this is usually not parameterized in global climate models (GCMs). Empirical parameterizations, designed to represent the average of this effect, as well as its lower and upper bounds, are tested in the CSIRO GCM. Compared to a control simulation, in which the relative dispersion of the cloud droplet spectrum is prescribed separately over land and ocean, inclusion of this effect reduces the magnitude of the first indirect aerosol effect by between 12% and 35%.

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Leon D. Rotstayn and Ulrike Lohmann

Abstract

An atmospheric global climate model coupled to a mixed layer ocean model is used to study changes in tropical rainfall due to the indirect effects of anthropogenic sulfate aerosol. The model is run to equilibrium for present-day (PD) and preindustrial (PI) sulfur emission scenarios. As in two other recent studies, the model generally gives a southward shift of tropical rainfall in the PD run relative to the PI run. This is largely due to a hemispheric asymmetry in the reduction of sea surface temperature (SST) induced by the perturbation of cloud albedo and lifetime.

Observed precipitation trends over land for the period 1900–98 show a complex pattern in the Tropics, but when zonally averaged, a southward shift similar to (but weaker than) the modeled shift is clearly evident. The zonally averaged tropical trends are significant at the 5% level in several latitude bands. The modeled present-day hemispheric contrast in cloud droplet effective radius (which affects cloud albedo) is well supported by one long-term satellite retrieval, but not by another. A third satellite retrieval, which only covers an 8-month period, does show a marked hemispheric contrast in effective radius.

Both in the modeled changes and the observed trends, a prominent feature is the drying of the Sahel in North Africa. Modeled dynamical changes in this region are similar to observed changes that have been associated with Sahelian drought. Previous work has identified a near-global, quasi-hemispheric pattern of contrasting SST anomalies (cool in the Northern Hemisphere and warm in the Southern Hemisphere) associated with dry conditions in the Sahel. The present results, combined with this earlier finding, suggest that the indirect effects of anthropogenic sulfate may have contributed to the Sahelian drying trend. More generally, it is concluded that spatially varying aerosol-related forcing (both direct and indirect) can substantially alter low-latitude circulation and rainfall.

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D. Leon, G. Vali, and M. Lothon

Abstract

A modified dual-Doppler analysis technique for use with airborne Doppler radars utilizing two fixed beams is presented. Although the data collected by such a system would ideally lie in the plane defined by the radar beam orientations and the aircraft velocity vector, variations in the aircraft attitude and drift angles lead to displacements between the radar observations and the idealized observation plane. These variations motivated the development of a formal framework in which an a priori velocity estimate is used in conjunction with the two Doppler velocity measurements to form a three-dimensional velocity estimate. Two velocity components, lying within or close to the observation plane, and therefore containing only a small contribution from the a priori velocity estimate, are then extracted from the three-dimensional velocity estimate. Advantages of using the three-dimensional framework include improved accuracy (when an a priori velocity estimate is available) and a framework for assessing the effects of cross-plane contamination on the retrieved velocity components.

The velocity fields retrieved using the modified dual-Doppler analysis are affected by errors in the platform motion correction to the Doppler velocities, random noise in the mean Doppler velocity estimates, displacements between the radar beams (and between the radar beams and the idealized observation plane), and meteorological velocity variations about the a priori velocity estimate. Errors in the platform motion correction remain poorly characterized but are believed to be the largest source of error in many cases. However, these errors result primarily in biases (or low-frequency errors) in the retrieved velocity fields and therefore do not interfere with the ability to resolve actual velocity variations. Random noise in the mean Doppler velocity estimates increases dramatically with decreasing signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) (for SNR < 5 dB) and effectively limits the use of the single-plane dual-Doppler (SPDD) analysis to SNR > 0 dB. Displacements between the volumes sampled by the nadir and slanted beams can also be a significant source of error, especially at larger displacements from the aircraft. Errors resulting from meteorological velocity variations about the a priori velocity estimate tend to be small compared to the velocity variations of interest.

The dual-Doppler analysis presented in this paper has been applied to retrieve two-dimensional velocity fields with a resolution of ∼50 m using Doppler velocities collected using dual-beam configurations of the Wyoming Cloud Radar. Results are in horizontal and vertical planes for marine stratocumulus, cumulus congestus, and for the clear-air boundary layer.

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Leon D. Rotstayn and Joyce E. Penner

Abstract

The component of the indirect aerosol effect related to changes in precipitation efficiency (the second indirect or Albrecht effect) is presently evaluated in climate models by taking the difference in net irradiance between a present-day and a preindustrial simulation using fixed sea surface temperatures (SSTs). This approach gives a “quasi forcing,” which differs from a pure forcing in that fields other than the initially perturbed quantity have been allowed to vary. It is routinely used because, in contrast to the first indirect (Twomey) effect, there is no straightforward method of calculating a pure forcing for the second indirect effect. This raises the question of whether evaluation of the second indirect effect in this manner is adequate as an indication of the likely effect of this perturbation on the global-mean surface temperature.

An atmospheric global climate model (AGCM) is used to compare the evaluation of different radiative perturbations as both pure forcings (when available) and quasi forcings. Direct and indirect sulfate aerosol effects and a doubling of carbon dioxide (CO2) are considered. For evaluation of the forcings and quasi forcings, the AGCM is run with prescribed SSTs. For evaluation of the equilibrium response to each perturbation, the AGCM is coupled to a mixed layer ocean model.

For the global-mean direct and first indirect effects, quasi forcings differ by less than 10% from the corresponding pure forcing. This suggests that any feedbacks contaminating these quasi forcings are small in the global mean. Further, the quasi forcings for the first and second indirect effects are almost identical when based on net irradiance or on cloud-radiative forcing, showing that clear-sky feedbacks are negligible in the global mean. The climate sensitivity parameters obtained for the first and second indirect effects (evaluated as quasi forcings) are almost identical, at 0.78 and 0.79 K m2 W−1, respectively. Climate sensitivity parameters based on pure forcings are 0.69, 0.84, and 1.01 K m2 W−1 for direct sulfate, first indirect, and 2 × CO2 forcings, respectively. The differences are related to the efficiency with which each forcing excites the strong surface-albedo feedback at high latitudes. Closer examination of the calculations of the first indirect effect as a forcing and quasi forcing shows that, although they are in reasonable agreement in the global mean, there are some significant differences in a few regions. Overall, these results suggest that evaluation of the globally averaged second indirect effect as a quasi forcing is satisfactory.

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Charles L. Hosler, D. C. Jensen, and Leon Goldshlak

Abstract

Manipulation of spheres of ice and observations of ice crystals colliding with a fixed crystal under conditions of controlled temperature and vapor pressure have been employed to determine the limiting conditions for the aggregation of ice crystals to form snow flakes. It is shown that the amount of aggregation is strongly dependent upon environmental vapor pressure and temperature. At ice saturation, no aggregation occurs at temperatures below −25C and aggregation increases and becomes a maximum as 0C is approached. At vapor pressure less-than-ice saturation no aggregation occurs at temperatures below −4C and aggregation increases rapidly as 0C is approached. Under conditions of supersaturation with respect to ice, aggregation occurs at all temperatures. These results are best explained by the existence of a liquid film on the surface of ice at temperatures below 0C where the thickness of the film is a function of temperature and vapor presuure.

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Leon T. Nguyen, Robert F. Rogers, and Paul D. Reasor

Abstract

Prior studies have shown an association between symmetrically distributed precipitation and tropical cyclone (TC) intensification. Although environmental vertical wind shear typically forces an asymmetric precipitation distribution in TCs, the magnitude of this asymmetry can exhibit considerable variability, even among TCs that experience similar shear magnitudes. This observational study examines the thermodynamic and kinematic influences on precipitation symmetry in two such cases: Bertha and Cristobal (2014). Consistent with the impact of the shear, both TCs exhibited a tilted vortex as well as a pronounced azimuthal asymmetry, with the maximum precipitation occurring in the downshear-left quadrant. However, Bertha was characterized by more symmetrically distributed precipitation and relatively modest vertical motions, while Cristobal was characterized by more azimuthally confined precipitation and much more vigorous vertical motions. Observations showed three potential hindrances to precipitation symmetry that were more prevalent in Cristobal than in Bertha: (i) convective downdrafts that transported low entropy air downward into the boundary layer, cooling and stabilizing the lower troposphere downstream in the left-of-shear and upshear quadrants; (ii) subsidence in the upshear quadrants, which acted to increase the temperature and decrease the relative humidity of the midtroposphere, resulting in capping of the boundary layer; and (iii) lateral advection of midtropospheric dry air from the environment, which dried the TC’s upshear quadrants.

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Leon D. Rotstayn, Brian F. Ryan, and Jack J. Katzfey

Abstract

A scheme for calculation of the liquid fraction f l in mixed-phase stratiform clouds has been developed for use in large-scale models. An advantage of the scheme, compared to the interpolation in temperature that is typically used, is that it makes it possible to simulate the life cycles of mixed-phase clouds, and the differences between deep and shallow clouds. The central part of the scheme is a physically based calculation of the growth of cloud ice crystals by vapor deposition at the expense of coexisting cloud liquid water, the so-called Bergeron–Findeisen mechanism. Versions of this calculation have been derived for three different ice-crystal habits (spheres, hexagonal plates, or columns) and for two different assumed spatial relationships of the coexisting cloud ice and liquid water (horizontally adjacent or uniformly mixed). The scheme also requires a parameterization of the ice crystal number concentration N i.

The variation with temperature of f l looks broadly realistic compared to aircraft observations taken in the vicinity of the British Isles when the scheme is used in the CSIRO GCM, if N i is parameterized using a supersaturation-dependent expression due to Meyers et al. If Fletcher’s earlier temperature-dependent expression for N i is used, the scheme generates liquid fractions that are too large. There is also considerable sensitivity to the ice-crystal habit, and some sensitivity to model horizontal resolution and to the assumed spatial relationship of the liquid water and ice. A further test shows that the liquid fractions are lower in cloud layers that are seeded from above by falling ice, than in layers that are not seeded in this way.

The scheme has also been tested in limited-area model simulations of a frontal system over southeastern Australia. Supercooled liquid water forms initially in the updraft, but mature parts of the cloud are mostly glaciated down to the melting level. This behavior, which is considered to be realistic based on observations of similar cloud systems, is not captured by a conventional temperature-dependent parameterization of f l. The variation with temperature of f l shows a marked sensitivity to the assumed spatial relationship of the liquid water and ice. The results obtained using the uniformly mixed assumption are considered to be more realistic than those obtained using the horizontally adjacent assumption. There is also much less sensitivity to the time step when the former assumption is used.

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Leon D. Rotstayn, Mark A. Collier, Drew T. Shindell, and Olivier Boucher

Abstract

Linear regression is used to examine the relationship between simulated changes in historical global-mean surface temperature (GMST) and global-mean aerosol effective radiative forcing (ERF) in 14 climate models from CMIP5. The models have global-mean aerosol ERF that ranges from −0.35 to −1.60 W m−2 for 2000 relative to 1850. It is shown that aerosol ERF is the dominant factor that determines intermodel variations in simulated GMST change: correlations between aerosol ERF and simulated changes in GMST exceed 0.9 for linear trends in GMST over all periods that begin between 1860 and 1950 and end between 1995 and 2005. Comparison of modeled and observed GMST trends for these time periods gives an inferred global-mean aerosol ERF of −0.92 W m−2.

On average, transient climate sensitivity is roughly 40% larger with respect to historical forcing from aerosols than well-mixed greenhouse gases. This enhanced sensitivity explains the dominant effect of aerosol forcing on simulated changes in GMST: it is estimated that 85% of the intermodel variance of simulated GMST change is explained by variations in aerosol ERF, but without the enhanced sensitivity less than half would be explained. Physically, the enhanced sensitivity is caused by a combination of 1) the larger concentration of aerosol forcing in the midlatitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, where positive feedbacks are stronger and transient warming is faster than in the Southern Hemisphere, and 2) the time evolution of aerosol forcing, which levels out earlier than forcing from well-mixed greenhouse gases.

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