A careful reading of Tim Merlis’s Ph.D. thesis by Andy Thompson is greatly appreciated. We thank Rob Korty and Damianos Mantsis for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a Princeton Center for Theoretical Science Fellowship, and National Science Foundation Grant AGS-1049201. The program codes for the simulations, based on the Flexible Modeling System of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, as well as the simulation results themselves, are available from the authors upon request.
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Low clouds in polar regions where the air temperature is below the freezing point of water are still assumed to be in the liquid water phase.
Cloud fraction has no effect on the radiative transfer where cloud liquid water and ice water is zero.
The calendar is defined with respect to the Northern Hemisphere autumnal equinox; that is, the autumnal equinox occurs on 21 September for all orbital parameters. In all simulations, JAS is defined as Julian days 181–270 without shifts that would account, for example, for the changing day of the year of the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice, which shifts by about 10 days for these orbits (see Fig. 7). Similar results are obtained if these calendar effects are accounted for by averaging from the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice to the Northern Hemisphere autumnal equinox of each orbit (i.e., averages defined by the same angles in the orbital plane; cf. Joussaume and Braconnot 1997). Also, Fig. 7 shows that the difference between the streamfunction maxima in the simulations is similar in magnitude to the difference of the JAS time averages (Fig. 5).
Formulas in the text are expressed in pressure coordinates, but the GCM simulations are analyzed in the model’s σ coordinate, with the appropriate surface pressure weighting of averages.
The GMS is evaluated in the simulations using