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Gregory Thompson and Trude Eidhammer

Abstract

Aerosols influence cloud and precipitation development in complex ways due to myriad feedbacks at a variety of scales from individual clouds through entire storm systems. This paper describes the implementation, testing, and results of a newly modified bulk microphysical parameterization with explicit cloud droplet nucleation and ice activation by aerosols. Idealized tests and a high-resolution, convection-permitting, continental-scale, 72-h simulation with five sensitivity experiments showed that increased aerosol number concentration results in more numerous cloud droplets of overall smaller size and delays precipitation development. Furthermore, the smaller droplet sizes cause the expected increased cloud albedo effect and more subtle longwave radiation effects. Although increased aerosols generally hindered the warm-rain processes, regions of mixed-phase clouds were impacted in slightly unexpected ways with more precipitation falling north of a synoptic-scale warm front. Aerosol impacts to regions of light precipitation, less than approximately 2.5 mm h−1, were far greater than impacts to regions with higher precipitation rates. Comparisons of model forecasts with five different aerosol states versus surface precipitation measurements revealed that even a large-scale storm system with nearly a thousand observing locations did not indicate which experiment produced a more correct final forecast, indicating a need for far longer-duration simulations due to the magnitude of both model forecast error and observational uncertainty. Last, since aerosols affect cloud and precipitation phase and amount, there are resulting implications to a variety of end-user applications such as surface sensible weather and aircraft icing.

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Trude Eidhammer, Hugh Morrison, David Mitchell, Andrew Gettelman, and Ehsan Erfani

Abstract

This paper describes a new approach for representing ice microphysics in climate models. In contrast with most previous schemes, this approach does not include separate categories for cloud and precipitating ice and instead uses a single two-moment category to represent all solid hydrometeors. Thus, there is no need for an ice “autoconversion” size threshold parameter, which has a critical impact on simulated climate in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) yet is poorly constrained by theory or observations. Further, in the new treatment, all ice microphysical processes and parameters, including ice effective radius and mean fall speed, are formulated self-consistently and flexibly based on empirical ice particle mass–size and projected area–size relationships. This means that the scheme can represent the physical coupling between bulk particle density, mean fall speed, and effective radius, which is not possible in current schemes. Two different methods for specifying these relationships based on observations are proposed. The new scheme is tested in global simulations using CAM5. Differences in simulations using the two methods for specifying the mass– and projected area–size relationships, particularly the cloud radiative forcing, are attributable mainly to the effects on mean ice particle fall speed, impacting sedimentation and ice water path. With some tuning of parameters involved in calculating homogeneous freezing it produces a similar climate compared to the simulations using the original CAM5 microphysics. Thus, it can produce a comparable climate while improving the physical basis and self-consistency of ice particle properties and parameters.

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Pedro A. Jimenez, Joshua P. Hacker, Jimy Dudhia, Sue Ellen Haupt, Jose A. Ruiz-Arias, Chris A. Gueymard, Gregory Thompson, Trude Eidhammer, and Aijun Deng

Abstract

WRF-Solar is a specific configuration and augmentation of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model designed for solar energy applications. Recent upgrades to the WRF Model contribute to making the model appropriate for solar power forecasting and comprise 1) developments to diagnose internally relevant atmospheric parameters required by the solar industry, 2) improved representation of aerosol–radiation feedback, 3) incorporation of cloud–aerosol interactions, and 4) improved cloud–radiation feedback. The WRF-Solar developments are presented together with a comprehensive characterization of the model performance for forecasting during clear skies. Performance is evaluated with numerical experiments using a range of different external and internal treatment of the atmospheric aerosols, including both a model-derived climatology of aerosol optical depth and temporally evolving aerosol optical properties from reanalysis products. The necessity of incorporating the influence of atmospheric aerosols to obtain accurate estimations of the surface shortwave irradiance components in clear-sky conditions is evident. Improvements of up to 58%, 76%, and 83% are found in global horizontal irradiance, direct normal irradiance, and diffuse irradiance, respectively, compared to a standard version of the WRF Model. Results demonstrate that the WRF-Solar model is an improved numerical tool for research and applications in support of solar energy.

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