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Robin Chadwick, Ian Boutle, and Gill Martin

Abstract

Changes in the patterns of tropical precipitation (P) and circulation are analyzed in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) GCMs under the representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario. A robust weakening of the tropical circulation is seen across models, associated with a divergence feedback that acts to reduce convection most in areas of largest climatological ascent. This is in contrast to the convergence feedback seen in interannual variability of tropical precipitation patterns. The residual pattern of convective mass-flux change is associated with shifts in convergence zones due to mechanisms such as SST gradient change, and this is often locally larger than the weakening due to the divergence feedback.

A simple framework is constructed to separate precipitation change into components based on different mechanisms and to relate it directly to circulation change. While the tropical mean increase in precipitation is due to the residual between the positive thermodynamic change due to increased specific humidity and the decreased convective mass flux due to the weakening of the circulation, the spatial patterns of these two components largely cancel each other out. The rich-get-richer mechanism of greatest precipitation increases in ascent regions is almost negated by this cancellation, explaining why the spatial correlation between climatological P and the climate change anomaly ΔP is only 0.2 over the tropics for the CMIP5 multimodel mean. This leaves the spatial pattern of precipitation change to be dominated by the component associated with shifts in convergence zones, both in the multimodel mean and intermodel uncertainty, with the component due to relative humidity change also becoming important over land.

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Kwinten Van Weverberg, Cyril J. Morcrette, and Ian Boutle

Abstract

A wide range of approaches exists to account for subgrid cloud variability in regional simulations of the atmosphere. This paper addresses the following questions: (1) Is there still benefit in representing subgrid variability of cloud in convection-permitting simulations? (2) What is the sensitivity to the cloud fraction parameterization complexity? (3) Are current cloud fraction parameterizations scale-aware across convection-permitting resolutions? These questions are addressed for regional simulations of a six-week observation campaign in the US Southern Great Plains. Particular attention is given to a new diagnostic cloud fraction scheme with a bimodal subgrid saturation-departure PDF, described in Part I. The model evaluation is performed using ground-based remote sensing synergies, satellite-based retrievals and surface observations. It is shown that not using a cloud-fraction parameterization results in underestimated cloud frequency and water content, even for stratocumulus. The use of a cloud-fraction parameterization does not guarantee improved cloud property simulations, however. Diagnostic and prognostic cloud schemes with a symmetric subgrid saturation-departure PDF underestimate cloud fraction and cloud optical thickness, and hence overestimate surface shortwave radiation. These schemes require empirical bias-correction techniques to improve the cloud cover. The new cloud-fraction parameterization, introduced in Part I, improves cloud cover, liquid water content, cloud base height, optical thickness and surface radiation compared to schemes reliant on a symmetric PDF. Furthermore, cloud parameterizations using turbulence-based, rather than prescribed constant subgrid variances, are shown to be more scale-aware across convection-permitting resolutions.

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Kwinten Van Weverberg, Cyril J. Morcrette, Ian Boutle, Kalli Furtado, and Paul R. Field

Abstract

Cloud fraction parameterizations are beneficial to regional, convection-permitting numerical weather prediction. For its operational regional mid-latitude forecasts, the UK Met Office uses a diagnostic cloud fraction scheme which relies on a unimodal, symmetric subgrid saturation-departure distribution. This scheme has been shown before to underestimate cloud cover and hence an empirically-based bias correction is used operationally to improve performance. This first of a series of two papers proposes a new diagnostic cloud scheme as a more physically-based alternative to the operational bias correction. The new cloud scheme identifies entrainment zones associated with strong temperature inversions. For model grid boxes located in this entrainment zone, co-located moist and dry Gaussian modes are used to represent the subgrid conditions. The mean and width of the Gaussian modes, inferred from the turbulent characteristics, are then used to diagnose cloud water content and cloud fraction. It is shown that the new scheme diagnoses enhanced cloud cover for a given grid-box mean humidity, similar to the current operational approach. It does so, however, in a physically meaningful way. Using observed aircraft data and ground-based retrievals over the Southern Great Plains in the US, it is shown that the new scheme improves the relation between cloud fraction, relative humidity and liquid water content. An emergent property of the scheme is its ability to infer skewed and bimodal distributions from the large-scale state that qualitatively compare well against observations. A detailed evaluation and resolution sensitivity study will follow in part II.

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Marion Saint-Lu, Robin Chadwick, F. Hugo Lambert, Matthew Collins, Ian Boutle, Michael Whitall, and Chimene Daleu

Abstract

By comparing a single-column model (SCM) with closely related general circulation models (GCMs), precipitation changes that can be diagnosed from local changes in surface temperature (T S) and relative humidity (RHS) are separated from more complex responses. In the SCM setup, the large-scale tropical circulation is parameterized to respond to the surface temperature departure from a prescribed environment, following the weak temperature gradient (WTG) approximation and using the damped gravity wave (DGW) parameterization. The SCM is also forced with moisture variations. First, it is found that most of the present-day mean tropical rainfall and circulation pattern is associated with T S and RHS patterns. Climate change experiments with the SCM are performed, imposing separately surface warming and CO2 increase. The rainfall responses to future changes in sea surface temperature patterns and plant physiology are successfully reproduced, suggesting that these are direct responses to local changes in convective instability. However, the SCM increases oceanic rainfall too much, and fails to reproduce the land rainfall decrease, both of which are associated with uniform ocean warming. It is argued that remote atmospheric teleconnections play a crucial role in both weakening the atmospheric overturning circulation and constraining precipitation changes. Results suggest that the overturning circulation weakens, both as a direct local response to increased CO2 and in response to energy-imbalance driven exchanges between ascent and descent regions.

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Steven J. Abel, Ian A. Boutle, Kirk Waite, Stuart Fox, Philip R. A. Brown, Richard Cotton, Gary Lloyd, Tom W. Choularton, and Keith N. Bower

Abstract

Aircraft observations in a cold-air outbreak to the north of the United Kingdom are used to examine the boundary layer and cloud properties in an overcast mixed-phase stratocumulus cloud layer and across the transition to more broken open-cellular convection. The stratocumulus cloud is primarily composed of liquid drops with small concentrations of ice particles and there is a switch to more glaciated conditions in the shallow cumulus clouds downwind. The rapid change in cloud morphology is accompanied by enhanced precipitation with secondary ice processes becoming active and greater thermodynamic gradients in the subcloud layer. The measurements also show a removal of boundary layer accumulation mode aerosols via precipitation processes across the transition that are similar to those observed in the subtropics in pockets of open cells. Simulations using a convection-permitting (1.5-km grid spacing) regional version of the Met Office Unified Model were able to reproduce many of the salient features of the cloud field although the liquid water path in the stratiform region was too low. Sensitivity studies showed that ice was too active at removing supercooled liquid water from the cloud layer and that improvements could be made by limiting the overlap between the liquid water and ice phases. Precipitation appears to be the key mechanism responsible for initiating the transition from closed- to open-cellular convection by decoupling the boundary layer and depleting liquid water from the stratiform cloud.

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Steven C. Hardiman, Ian A. Boutle, Andrew C. Bushell, Neal Butchart, Mike J. P. Cullen, Paul R. Field, Kalli Furtado, James C. Manners, Sean F. Milton, Cyril Morcrette, Fiona M. O’Connor, Ben J. Shipway, Chris Smith, David N. Walters, Martin R. Willett, Keith D. Williams, Nigel Wood, N. Luke Abraham, James Keeble, Amanda C. Maycock, John Thuburn, and Matthew T. Woodhouse

Abstract

A warm bias in tropical tropopause temperature is found in the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM), in common with most models from phase 5 of CMIP (CMIP5). Key dynamical, microphysical, and radiative processes influencing the tropical tropopause temperature and lower-stratospheric water vapor concentrations in climate models are investigated using the MetUM. A series of sensitivity experiments are run to separate the effects of vertical advection, ice optical and microphysical properties, convection, cirrus clouds, and atmospheric composition on simulated tropopause temperature and lower-stratospheric water vapor concentrations in the tropics. The numerical accuracy of the vertical advection, determined in the MetUM by the choice of interpolation and conservation schemes used, is found to be particularly important. Microphysical and radiative processes are found to influence stratospheric water vapor both through modifying the tropical tropopause temperature and through modifying upper-tropospheric water vapor concentrations, allowing more water vapor to be advected into the stratosphere. The representation of any of the processes discussed can act to significantly reduce biases in tropical tropopause temperature and stratospheric water vapor in a physical way, thereby improving climate simulations.

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Rachel A. Stratton, Catherine A. Senior, Simon B. Vosper, Sonja S. Folwell, Ian A. Boutle, Paul D. Earnshaw, Elizabeth Kendon, Adrian P. Lock, Andrew Malcolm, James Manners, Cyril J. Morcrette, Christopher Short, Alison J. Stirling, Christopher M. Taylor, Simon Tucker, Stuart Webster, and Jonathan M. Wilkinson

Abstract

A convection-permitting multiyear regional climate simulation using the Met Office Unified Model has been run for the first time on an Africa-wide domain. The model has been run as part of the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) Improving Model Processes for African Climate (IMPALA) project, and its configuration, domain, and forcing data are described here in detail. The model [Pan-African Convection-Permitting Regional Climate Simulation with the Met Office UM (CP4-Africa)] uses a 4.5-km horizontal grid spacing at the equator and is run without a convection parameterization, nested within a global atmospheric model driven by observations at the sea surface, which does include a convection scheme. An additional regional simulation, with identical resolution and physical parameterizations to the global model, but with the domain, land surface, and aerosol climatologies of CP4-Africa, has been run to aid in the understanding of the differences between the CP4-Africa and global model, in particular to isolate the impact of the convection parameterization and resolution. The effect of enforcing moisture conservation in CP4-Africa is described and its impact on reducing extreme precipitation values is assessed. Preliminary results from the first five years of the CP4-Africa simulation show substantial improvements in JJA average rainfall compared to the parameterized convection models, with most notably a reduction in the persistent dry bias in West Africa, giving an indication of the benefits to be gained from running a convection-permitting simulation over the whole African continent.

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Janet Barlow, Martin Best, Sylvia I. Bohnenstengel, Peter Clark, Sue Grimmond, Humphrey Lean, Andreas Christen, Stefan Emeis, Martial Haeffelin, Ian N. Harman, Aude Lemonsu, Alberto Martilli, Eric Pardyjak, Mathias W Rotach, Susan Ballard, Ian Boutle, Andy Brown, Xiaoming Cai, Matteo Carpentieri, Omduth Coceal, Ben Crawford, Silvana Di Sabatino, Junxia Dou, Daniel R. Drew, John M. Edwards, Joachim Fallmann, Krzysztof Fortuniak, Jemma Gornall, Tobias Gronemeier, Christos H. Halios, Denise Hertwig, Kohin Hirano, Albert A. M. Holtslag, Zhiwen Luo, Gerald Mills, Makoto Nakayoshi, Kathy Pain, K. Heinke Schlünzen, Stefan Smith, Lionel Soulhac, Gert-Jan Steeneveld, Ting Sun, Natalie E Theeuwes, David Thomson, James A. Voogt, Helen C. Ward, Zheng-Tong Xie, and Jian Zhong
Open access