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Zeyu Cui, Guang J. Zhang, Yong Wang, and Shaocheng Xie

Abstract

The wrong diurnal cycle of precipitation is a common weakness of current global climate models (GCMs). To improve the simulation of the diurnal cycle of precipitation and understand what physical processes control it, we test a convective trigger function described in Xie et al. with additional optimizations in the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). The revised trigger function consists of three modifications: 1) replacing the convective available potential energy (CAPE) trigger with a dynamic CAPE (dCAPE) trigger, 2) allowing convection to originate above the top of planetary boundary layer [i.e., the unrestricted air parcel launch level (ULL)], and 3) optimizing the entrainment rate and threshold value of the dynamic CAPE generation rate for convection onset based on observations. Results from 1° resolution simulations show that the revised trigger can alleviate the long-standing GCM problem of too early maximum precipitation during the day and missing the nocturnal precipitation peak that is observed in many regions, including the U.S. southern Great Plains (SGP). The revised trigger also improves the simulation of the propagation of precipitation systems downstream of the Rockies and the Amazon region. A further composite analysis over the SGP unravels the mechanisms through which the revised trigger affects convection. Additional sensitivity tests show that both the peak time and the amplitude of the diurnal cycle of precipitation are sensitive to the entrainment rate and dCAPE threshold values.

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Minghua Zhang, Richard C. J. Somerville, and Shaocheng Xie
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Zeyu Cui, Guang J. Zhang, Yong Wang, and Shaocheng Xie

Abstract

The wrong diurnal cycle of precipitation is a common weakness of current global climate models (GCMs). To improve the simulation of the diurnal cycle of precipitation and understand what physical processes control it, we test a convective trigger function described in Xie et al. (2019) with additional optimizations in the NCAR Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). The revised trigger function consists of three modifications: 1) replacing the Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) trigger with a dynamic CAPE (dCAPE) trigger, 2) allowing convection to originate above the top of planetary boundary layer (i.e., the unrestricted air parcel launch level - ULL), and 3) optimizing the entrainment rate and threshold value of the dynamic CAPE generation rate for convection onset based on observations. Results from 1°-resolution simulations show that the revised trigger can alleviate the long-standing GCM problem of too early maximum precipitation during the day and missing the nocturnal precipitation peak that is observed in many regions, including the US Southern Great Plains (SGP). The revised trigger also improves the simulation of the propagation of precipitation systems downstream of the Rockies and the Amazon region. A further composite analysis over the SGP unravels the mechanisms through which the revised trigger affects convection. Additional sensitivity tests show that both the peak time and the amplitude of the diurnal cycle of precipitation are sensitive to the entrainment rate and dCAPE threshold values.

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Shaocheng Xie, Xiaohong Liu, Chuanfeng Zhao, and Yuying Zhang

Abstract

Sensitivity of Arctic clouds and radiation in the Community Atmospheric Model, version 5, to the ice nucleation process is examined by testing a new physically based ice nucleation scheme that links the variation of ice nuclei (IN) number concentration to aerosol properties. The default scheme parameterizes the IN concentration simply as a function of ice supersaturation. The new scheme leads to a significant reduction in simulated IN concentration at all latitudes while changes in cloud amounts and properties are mainly seen at high- and midlatitude storm tracks. In the Arctic, there is a considerable increase in midlevel clouds and a decrease in low-level clouds, which result from the complex interaction among the cloud macrophysics, microphysics, and large-scale environment. The smaller IN concentrations result in an increase in liquid water path and a decrease in ice water path caused by the slowdown of the Bergeron–Findeisen process in mixed-phase clouds. Overall, there is an increase in the optical depth of Arctic clouds, which leads to a stronger cloud radiative forcing (net cooling) at the top of the atmosphere. The comparison with satellite data shows that the new scheme slightly improves low-level cloud simulations over most of the Arctic but produces too many midlevel clouds. Considerable improvements are seen in the simulated low-level clouds and their properties when compared with Arctic ground-based measurements. Issues with the observations and the model–observation comparison in the Arctic region are discussed.

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Shuaiqi Tang, Peter Gleckler, Shaocheng Xie, Jiwoo Lee, Min-Seop Ahn, Curt Covey, and Chengzhu Zhang

Abstract

The diurnal and semi-diurnal cycle of precipitation simulated from CMIP6 models during 1996-2005 are evaluated globally between 60°S and 60°N, as well as at ten selected locations representing three categories of diurnal cycle of precipitation: (1) afternoon precipitation over land, (2) early morning precipitation over ocean, and (3) nocturnal precipitation over land. Three satellite-based and two ground-based rainfall products are used to evaluate the climate models. Globally, the ensemble mean of CMIP6 models shows a diurnal phase of 3 to 4 hours earlier over land and 1 to 2 hours earlier over ocean, when compared with the latest satellite products. These biases are in line with what were found in previous versions of climate models but reduced compared to the CMIP5 ensemble mean. Analysis at the selected locations complimented with in-situ measurements further reinforces these results. Several CMIP6 models have shown a significant improvement in the diurnal cycle of precipitation compared to their CMIP5 counterparts, notably on delaying afternoon precipitation over land. This can be attributed to the use of more sophisticated convective parameterizations. Most models are still unable to capture the nocturnal peak associated with elevated convection and propagating mesoscale convective systems, with a few exceptions that allow convection to be initiated above the boundary layer to capture nocturnal elevated convection. We also quantify an encouraging consistency between the satellite- and ground-based precipitation measurements despite differing spatiotemporal resolutions and sampling periods, which provides confidence in using them to evaluate the diurnal and semi-diurnal cycle of precipitation in climate models.

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Han-Ching Chen, Fei-Fei-Jin, Sen Zhao, Andrew T. Wittenberg, and Shaocheng Xie

Abstract

This study examines historical simulations of ENSO in the E3SM-1-0, CESM2, and GFDL-CM4 climate models, provided by three leading U.S. modeling centers as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6). These new models have made substantial progress in simulating ENSO’s key features, including amplitude, time scale, spatial patterns, phase-locking, the spring persistence barrier, and recharge oscillator dynamics. However, some important features of ENSO are still a challenge to simulate. In the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, the models’ weaker-than-observed subsurface zonal current anomalies and zonal temperature gradient anomalies serve to weaken the nonlinear zonal advection of subsurface temperatures, leading to insufficient warm/cold asymmetry of ENSO’s sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA). In the western equatorial Pacific, the models’ excessive simulated zonal SST gradients amplify their zonal temperature advection, causing their SSTA to extend farther west than observed. The models underestimate both ENSO’s positive dynamic feedbacks (due to insufficient zonal wind stress responses to SSTA) and its thermodynamic damping (due to insufficient convective cloud shading of eastern Pacific SSTA during warm events); compensation between these biases leads to realistic linear growth rates for ENSO, but for somewhat unrealistic reasons. The models also exhibit stronger-than-observed feedbacks onto eastern equatorial Pacific SSTAs from thermocline depth anomalies, which accelerates the transitions between events and shortens the simulated ENSO period relative to observations. Implications for diagnosing and simulating ENSO in climate models are discussed.

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Shaocheng Xie, Timothy Hume, Christian Jakob, Stephen A. Klein, Renata B. McCoy, and Minghua Zhang

Abstract

This study documents the characteristics of the large-scale structures and diabatic heating and drying profiles observed during the Tropical Warm Pool–International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE), which was conducted in January–February 2006 in Darwin during the northern Australian monsoon season. The examined profiles exhibit significant variations between four distinct synoptic regimes that were observed during the experiment. The active monsoon period is characterized by strong upward motion and large advective cooling and moistening throughout the entire troposphere, while the suppressed and clear periods are dominated by moderate midlevel subsidence and significant low- to midlevel drying through horizontal advection. The midlevel subsidence and horizontal dry advection are largely responsible for the dry midtroposphere observed during the suppressed period and limit the growth of clouds to low levels. During the break period, upward motion and advective cooling and moistening located primarily at midlevels dominate together with weak advective warming and drying (mainly from horizontal advection) at low levels. The variations of the diabatic heating and drying profiles with the different regimes are closely associated with differences in the large-scale structures, cloud types, and rainfall rates between the regimes. Strong diabatic heating and drying are seen throughout the troposphere during the active monsoon period while they are moderate and only occur above 700 hPa during the break period. The diabatic heating and drying tend to have their maxima at low levels during the suppressed periods. The diurnal variations of these structures between monsoon systems, continental/coastal, and tropical inland-initiated convective systems are also examined.

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Yunyan Zhang, Stephen A. Klein, Jiwen Fan, Arunchandra S. Chandra, Pavlos Kollias, Shaocheng Xie, and Shuaiqi Tang

Abstract

Based on long-term observations by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program at its Southern Great Plains site, a new composite case of continental shallow cumulus (ShCu) convection is constructed for large-eddy simulations (LES) and single-column models. The case represents a typical daytime nonprecipitating ShCu whose formation and dissipation are driven by the local atmospheric conditions and land surface forcing and are not influenced by synoptic weather events. The case includes early morning initial profiles of temperature and moisture with a residual layer; diurnally varying sensible and latent heat fluxes, which represent a domain average over different land surface types; simplified large-scale horizontal advective tendencies and subsidence; and horizontal winds with prevailing direction and average speed. Observed composite cloud statistics are provided for model evaluation.

The observed diurnal cycle is well reproduced by LES; however, the cloud amount, liquid water path, and shortwave radiative effect are generally underestimated. LES are compared between simulations with an all-or-nothing bulk microphysics and a spectral bin microphysics. The latter shows improved agreement with observations in the total cloud cover and the amount of clouds with depths greater than 300 m. When compared with radar retrievals of in-cloud air motion, LES produce comparable downdraft vertical velocities, but a larger updraft area, velocity, and updraft mass flux. Both observations and LES show a significantly larger in-cloud downdraft fraction and downdraft mass flux than marine ShCu.

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Shaocheng Xie, Hsi-Yen Ma, James S. Boyle, Stephen A. Klein, and Yuying Zhang

Abstract

The correspondence between short- and long-time-scale systematic errors in the Community Atmospheric Model, version 4 (CAM4) and version 5 (CAM5), is systematically examined. The analysis is based on the annual-mean data constructed from long-term “free running” simulations and short-range hindcasts. The hindcasts are initialized every day with the ECMWF analysis for the Year(s) of Tropical Convection. It has been found that most systematic errors, particularly those associated with moist processes, are apparent in day 2 hindcasts. These errors steadily grow with the hindcast lead time and typically saturate after five days with amplitudes comparable to the climate errors. Examples include the excessive precipitation in much of the tropics and the overestimate of net shortwave absorbed radiation in the stratocumulus cloud decks over the eastern subtropical oceans and the Southern Ocean at about 60°S. This suggests that these errors are likely the result of model parameterization errors as the large-scale flow remains close to observed in the first few days of the hindcasts. In contrast, other climate errors are present in the hindcasts, but with amplitudes that are significantly smaller than and do not approach their climate errors during the 6-day hindcasts. These include the cold biases in the lower stratosphere, the unrealistic double–intertropical convergence zone pattern in the simulated precipitation, and an annular mode bias in extratropical sea level pressure. This indicates that these biases could be related to slower processes such as radiative and chemical processes, which are important in the lower stratosphere, or the result of poor interactions of the parameterized physics with the large-scale flow.

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Han-Ching Chen, Fei-Fei Jin, Sen Zhao, Andrew T. Wittenberg, and Shaocheng Xie

Abstract

This study examines historical simulations of ENSO in the E3SM-1-0, CESM2, and GFDL-CM4 climate models, provided by three leading U.S. modeling centers as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6). These new models have made substantial progress in simulating ENSO’s key features, including: amplitude; timescale; spatial patterns; phase-locking; spring persistence barrier; and recharge oscillator dynamics. However, some important features of ENSO are still a challenge to simulate. In the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, the models’ weaker-than-observed subsurface zonal current anomalies and zonal temperature gradient anomalies serve to weaken the nonlinear zonal advection of subsurface temperatures, leading to insufficient warm/cold asymmetry of ENSO’s sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA). In the western equatorial Pacific, the models’ excessive simulated zonal SST gradients amplify their zonal temperature advection, causing their SSTA to extend farther west than observed. The models underestimate both ENSO’s positive dynamic feedbacks (due to insufficient zonal wind stress responses to SSTA) and its thermodynamic damping (due to insufficient convective cloud shading of eastern Pacific SSTA during warm events); compensation between these biases leads to realistic linear growth rates for ENSO, but for somewhat unrealistic reasons. The models also exhibit stronger-than-observed feedbacks onto eastern equatorial Pacific SSTAs from thermocline depth anomalies, which accelerates the transitions between events and shortens the simulated ENSO period relative to observations. Implications for diagnosing and simulating ENSO in climate models are discussed.

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