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Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Hourly satellite cloud data from 18 June to 18 July 1997 over the U.S. southern Great Plains are analyzed to study the scale-dependent cloud properties and their relationships to atmospheric conditions. The observed clouds are classified into high, midlevel, and low clouds according to their top heights. For each cloud type, contribution to the total cloud amount from clouds of different sizes is determined using a Lagrangian cloud classification scheme. It is found that in this continental, convectively active environment, more than half of the total cloud amount is from high clouds, of which 80% comes from clouds with area >4 × 104 km2. For midlevel clouds, more than 50% of the contribution to cloud amount is from small clouds (e.g., cloud area <4 × 104 km2). Almost all of the low clouds with significant contribution to cloud amount have spatial scales <4 × 104 km2. This suggests that most of the midlevel and low clouds are of subgrid scale to a typical GCM resolution (T42 or T63). It is further found that cloud radiative properties, such as cloud albedo, outgoing longwave radiation, and cloud radiative forcing, have strong scale dependence. Bigger clouds are brighter and have lower outgoing longwave radiation. These results indicate that contributions to the observed cloud radiative forcing are dominated by large cloud systems. The diurnal variation of the cloud properties is also examined.

Using concurrent meteorological analysis from NCEP, possible relationships between cloud properties and prevailing meteorological conditions were sought. It is found that clear relationships exist between cloud properties, such as cloud amount and albedo, and the layer-averaged relative humidity, and the relationships vary with cloud scale. In addition, cloud properties for high clouds are well correlated to vertical velocity in the upper troposphere. More large and highly reflective clouds tend to occur in regions of upward motion. Low clouds have a clear correspondence with the lower-tropospheric static stability and temperature. Large and thick clouds prefer to exist where the lower-tropospheric air is cold, statically more stable, and has high relative humidity.

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J. Craig Collier
and
Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Simulation of the North American monsoon system by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model (CAM3) is evaluated in its sensitivity to increasing horizontal resolution. For two resolutions, T42 and T85, rainfall is compared to Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite-derived and surface gauge-based rainfall rates over the United States and northern Mexico as well as rainfall accumulations in gauges of the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) Enhanced Rain Gauge Network (NERN) in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Simulated upper-tropospheric mass and wind fields are compared to those from NCEP–NCAR reanalyses. The comparison presented herein demonstrates that tropospheric motions associated with the North American monsoon system are sensitive to increasing the horizontal resolution of the model. An increase in resolution from T42 to T85 results in changes to a region of large-scale midtropospheric descent found north and east of the monsoon anticyclone. Relative to its simulation at T42, this region extends farther south and west at T85. Additionally, at T85, the subsidence is stronger. Consistent with the differences in large-scale descent, the T85 simulation of CAM3 is anomalously dry over Texas and northeastern Mexico during the peak monsoon months. Meanwhile, the geographic distribution of rainfall over the Sierra Madre Occidental region of Mexico is more satisfactorily simulated at T85 than at T42 for July and August. Moisture import into this region is greater at T85 than at T42 during these months. A focused study of the Sierra Madre Occidental region in particular shows that, in the regional-average sense, the timing of the peak of the monsoon is relatively insensitive to the horizontal resolution of the model, while a phase bias in the diurnal cycle of monsoon season precipitation is somewhat reduced in the higher-resolution run. At both resolutions, CAM3 poorly simulates the month-to-month evolution of monsoon rainfall over extreme northwestern Mexico and Arizona, though biases are considerably improved at T85.

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J. Craig Collier
and
Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Two 9-yr runs of the NCAR Community Climate Model version 3 (CCM3) are compared in their simulations of the North American summer monsoon. In a control simulation, the Zhang–McFarlane deep convection scheme is used. For an experimental simulation, the following modifications to the scheme are implemented. The closure is based on the large-scale forcing of virtual temperature, and a relative humidity threshold on convective parcels lifted from the boundary layer is applied. The sensitivity to these modifications for simulating the North American monsoon is investigated. Model validation relies on hourly precipitation rates from surface gauges over the United States, hourly precipitation rates derived from the combination of microwave and radar measurements from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite over Mexico, and CAPE values as calculated from temperature, specific humidity, and pressure fields from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis. Results show that the experimental run improves the timing of the monsoon onset and peak in the regions of core monsoon influence considered here, though it increases a negative bias in the peak monsoon intensity in one region of northern Mexico. Sensitivity of the diurnal cycle of precipitation to modifications in the convective scheme is highly geographically dependent. Using a combination of gauge-based rainfall rates and reanalysis-based CAPE, it is found that improvements in the simulated diurnal cycle are confined to a convective regime in which the diurnal evolution of precipitation is observed to lag that of CAPE. For another regime, in which CAPE is observed to be approximately in phase with precipitation, model phase biases increase nearly everywhere. Some of the increased phase biases in the latter regime are primarily because of application of the relative humidity threshold.

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Guang J. Zhang
and
Xiaoliang Song

Abstract

The microphysical processes inside convective clouds play an important role in climate. They directly control the amount of detrainment of cloud hydrometeor and water vapor from updrafts. The detrained water substance in turn affects the anvil cloud formation, upper-tropospheric water vapor distribution, and thus the atmospheric radiation budget. In global climate models, convective parameterization schemes have not explicitly represented microphysics processes in updrafts until recently. In this paper, the authors provide a review of existing schemes for convective microphysics parameterization. These schemes are broadly divided into three groups: tuning-parameter-based schemes (simplest), single-moment schemes, and two-moment schemes (most comprehensive). Common weaknesses of the tuning-parameter-based and single-moment schemes are outlined. Examples are presented from one of the two-moment schemes to demonstrate the performance of the scheme in simulating the hydrometeor distribution in convection and its representation of the effect of aerosols on convection.

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Guang J. Zhang
and
Xiaoqing Wu

Abstract

This study uses a 2D cloud-resolving model to investigate the vertical transport of horizontal momentum and to understand the role of a convection-generated perturbation pressure field in the momentum transport by convective systems during part of the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) Intensive Observation Period. It shows that convective updrafts transport a significant amount of momentum vertically. This transport is downgradient in the easterly wind regime, but upgradient during a westerly wind burst. The differences in convective momentum transport between easterly and westerly wind regimes are examined.

The perturbation pressure gradient accounts for an important part of the apparent momentum source. In general it is opposite in sign to the product of cloud mass flux and the vertical wind shear, with smaller magnitude. Examination of the dynamic forcing to the pressure field demonstrates that the linear forcing representing the interaction between the convective updrafts and the large-scale wind shear is the dominant term, while the nonlinear forcing is of secondary importance. Thus, parameterization schemes taking into account the linear interaction between the convective updrafts and the large-scale wind shear can capture the essential features of the perturbation pressure field.

The parameterization scheme for momentum transport by Zhang and Cho is evaluated using the model simulation data. The parameterized pressure gradient force using the scheme is in excellent agreement with the simulated one. The parameterized apparent momentum source is also in good agreement with the model simulation. Other parameterization methods for the pressure gradient are also discussed.

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Danče Zurovac-Jevtić
and
Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Recent research has shown that depending on the cloud properties, cirrus clouds can either increase or decrease the overall heating of the earth–atmosphere system. Hence, the representation of cirrus clouds in GCMs is recognized as an important contemporary problem. In this study a new diagnostic cirrus parameterization scheme is developed with the intention of improving the simulation of cirrus macro- and microphysical properties in large-scale models.

The scheme allows both large-scale motions and convective detrainment to be a source of moisture for cirrus. Water vapor depletion is calculated as diffusional growth of ice crystals with known size distributions, and the effective fallout from a model layer is estimated using mass-weighted fall velocities of the bulk precipitation.

The scheme was implemented and tested with the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM3). The seasonal means of cirrus cloud cover and ice water contents over the warm pool region, as simulated with the new cirrus parameterization, appeared to be much more realistic than in the standard model version when compared to satellite and in situ data. In contrast to the high amount of optically thin cirrus at all cirrus levels simulated by the standard CCM3, cirrus formed with the new scheme are significantly thicker with a reduced amount in the lower part of the upper troposphere (approximately 10–14 km), whereas cirrus formed below the tropopause (approximately 14–17 km) stay thin but have higher cover. It has also been found that a more realistic precipitation treatment not only results in the formation of thicker anvil cirrus, but also increases the rain and evaporation rates in the middle troposphere. These results suggest that cirrus clouds can be an important potential water vapor source in the tropical troposphere.

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Guang J. Zhang
and
Xiaoliang Song

Abstract

This study investigates the coupled atmosphere–ocean feedback and the role of ocean dynamic heat transport in the formation of double ITCZ over the tropical Pacific in the NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 3 (CCSM3) and its alleviation when a revised Zhang–McFarlane (ZM) convection scheme is used. A hierarchy of coupling strategy is employed for this purpose. A slab ocean model is coupled with the atmospheric component of the Community Atmosphere Model, version 3 (CAM3) to investigate the local feedback between the atmosphere and the ocean. It is shown that the net surface energy flux differences in the southern ITCZ region between the revised and original ZM scheme seen in the stand-alone CAM3 simulations can cool the SST by up to 1.5°C. However, the simulated SST distribution is very sensitive to the prescribed ocean heat transport required in the slab ocean model. To understand the role of ocean heat transport, the fully coupled CCSM3 model is used. The analysis of CCSM3 simulations shows that the altered ocean dynamic heat transport when the revised ZM scheme is used is largely responsible for the reduction of SST bias in the southern ITCZ region, although surface energy flux also helps to cool the SST in the first few months of the year in seasonal variation.

The results, together with those from , suggest that the unrealistic simulation of convection over the southern ITCZ region in the standard CCSM3 leads to the double-ITCZ bias through complex coupled interactions between atmospheric convection, surface winds, latent heat flux, cloud radiative forcing, SST, and upper-ocean circulations. The mitigation of the double-ITCZ bias using the revised ZM scheme is achieved by altering this chain of interactions.

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Xiaoliang Song
and
Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Under global warming from the doubling of CO2, the equatorial Pacific experiences an El Niño–like warming, as simulated by most global climate models. A new climate feedback and response analysis method (CFRAM) is applied to 10 years of hourly output of the slab ocean model (SOM) version of the NCAR Community Climate System Model, version 3.0, (CCSM3-SOM) to determine the processes responsible for this warming. Unlike the traditional surface heat budget analysis, the CFRAM can explicitly quantify the contributions of each radiative climate feedback and of each physical and dynamical process of a GCM to temperature changes. The mean bias in the sum of partial SST changes due to each feedback derived with CFRAM in the tropical Pacific is negligible (0.5%) compared to the mean SST change from the CCSM3-SOM simulations, with a spatial pattern correlation of 0.97 between the two. The analysis shows that the factors contributing to the El Niño–like SST warming in the central Pacific are different from those in the eastern Pacific. In the central Pacific, the largest contributor to El Niño–like SST warming is dynamical advection, followed by PBL diffusion, water vapor feedback, and surface evaporation. In contrast, in the eastern Pacific the dominant contributor to El Niño–like SST warming is cloud feedback, with water vapor feedback further amplifying the warming.

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E. Suhas
and
Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Realistic simulation of different modes of atmospheric variability ranging from diurnal cycle to interannual variation in global climate models (GCMs) depends crucially on the convection trigger criteria. In this study, using the data from constrained variational analysis by the Atmospheric System Research program for single-column models (SCM), the performance of the commonly used convective trigger functions in GCMs is evaluated based on the equitable threat score (ETS) value, a widely used forecast verification metric. From the ETS score, three consistently better-performing trigger functions were identified. They are based on the dilute and undilute convective available potential energy (CAPE) generation rate from large-scale forcing in the free troposphere (hereafter dCAPE) and parcel buoyancy at the lifting condensation level (Bechtold scheme). The key variables used to define these trigger functions are examined in detail. It is found that the dilute dCAPE trigger function performs the best consistently in both the tropical and midlatitude convective environment. Analysis of the composite fields of key variables of the trigger functions, based on the correct prediction, overprediction and underprediction of convection, and correct prediction of no-convection cases for convective onset, brings to light some critical factors responsible for the performance of the trigger functions. The lower-tropospheric advective forcing in dilute dCAPE trigger and vertical velocity in Bechtold trigger are identified to be the most importance ones. Suggestions are offered for further improvements.

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Fengfei Song
and
Guang J. Zhang

Abstract

Using observations from the Green Ocean Amazon (GOAmazon) field campaign, this study aims to improve trigger functions of convection schemes. Results show that the CAPE generation rate (dCAPE)-type triggers are the first tier and that the Bechtold and heated condensation framework (HCF) triggers are a distant second tier. The composite analysis reveals that the undilute dCAPE trigger underpredicts convection when there is bottom-heavy upward motion but overpredicts convection with low-level downward and upper-level upward motions. The empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis on vertical velocity shows that EOF1 (62.65%) exhibits upward motion throughout the troposphere and that EOF2 (28.05%) has lower-level upward motion and upper-level downward motion. Both of them have close relationships with precipitation, indicating the role of vertical velocity in triggering convection. The skill sensitivity analysis shows that the inclusion of 700-hPa upward motion significantly enhances the undilute dCAPE trigger. For the dilute dCAPE trigger, entrainment rate and dCAPE threshold are optimized to improve it. Opposite to dCAPE-type triggers, the Bechtold trigger overemphasizes the low-level vertical velocity and underpredicts the mature and decaying phases of long-lasting convection events. The HCF trigger overemphasizes the near-surface moist static energy and overlooks the vertical velocity. The performance of dCAPE-type triggers on various convective systems over the Amazon region is examined. The eastward-propagating systems are best represented, with only a few underpredictions in their decaying stages. The weak locally occurring systems and marginal phases of westward-propagating systems are easy to underpredict. The revised dCAPE-type triggers perform better on different convection systems and the diurnal cycle of convection.

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