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Growth and Decay of Error in a Numerical Cloud Model Due to Small Initial Perturbations and Parameter Changes

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  • a Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • | b Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
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Abstract

The behavior of a numerical cloud model is investigated in terms of its sensitivity to perturbations with two kinds of lateral boundary conditions: 1) with cyclic lateral boundary conditions, the model is sensitive to many aspects of its structure, including a very small potential temperature perturbation at only one grid point, changes in time step, and small changes in parameters such as the autoconversion rate from cloud water to rainwater and the latent heat of vaporization; 2) with prescribed lateral boundary conditions, growth and decay of perturbations are highly dependent on the flow conditions inside the domain. It is shown that under relatively uniform (unidirectional) advection across the domain, the perturbations will decay. On the other hand, convergence, divergence, or, in general, flow patterns with changing directions support error growth. This study shows that it is the flow structure inside the model domain that is important in determining whether the prescribed lateral boundary conditions will result in decaying or growing perturbations. The numerical model is inherently sensitive to initial perturbations, but errors can decay due to advection of information from lateral boundaries across the domain by uniform flow. This result provides one explanation to the reported results in earlier studies showing both error growth and decay.

Abstract

The behavior of a numerical cloud model is investigated in terms of its sensitivity to perturbations with two kinds of lateral boundary conditions: 1) with cyclic lateral boundary conditions, the model is sensitive to many aspects of its structure, including a very small potential temperature perturbation at only one grid point, changes in time step, and small changes in parameters such as the autoconversion rate from cloud water to rainwater and the latent heat of vaporization; 2) with prescribed lateral boundary conditions, growth and decay of perturbations are highly dependent on the flow conditions inside the domain. It is shown that under relatively uniform (unidirectional) advection across the domain, the perturbations will decay. On the other hand, convergence, divergence, or, in general, flow patterns with changing directions support error growth. This study shows that it is the flow structure inside the model domain that is important in determining whether the prescribed lateral boundary conditions will result in decaying or growing perturbations. The numerical model is inherently sensitive to initial perturbations, but errors can decay due to advection of information from lateral boundaries across the domain by uniform flow. This result provides one explanation to the reported results in earlier studies showing both error growth and decay.

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