Precipitation Characteristics in the Community Atmosphere Model and Their Dependence on Model Physics and Resolution
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Precipitation Characteristics in the Community Atmosphere Model and Their Dependence on Model Physics and Resolution
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 11(7), 2352-2374, 2019
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Precipitation Characteristics in the Community Atmosphere Model and Their Dependence on Model Physics and Resolution
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  • Description:
    Precipitation amount (A), frequency (F), intensity (I), and duration (D) are important properties of precipitation, but their estimates are sensitive to data resolution. This study investigates this resolution dependence, and the influences of different model physics, by analyzing simulations by the Community Atmospheric Model (CAM) version 4 (CAM4) and version 5 (CAM5) with varying grid sizes from ~0.25 to 2.0°. Results show that both CAM4 and CAM5 greatly overestimate F and D but underestimate I at all resolutions, despite realistic A. These biases partly result from too much parameterized (convective) precipitation with high F and D but low I. Different cloud microphysics schemes contribute to the precipitation differences between CAM4 and CAM5. The A, F, I, and D of convective and nonconvective precipitation react differently to grid‐size decreases, leading to the large decreases in F and D but increases in the I for total precipitation as model resolution increases. This resolution dependence results from the increased probability of precipitation over a larger area (area aggregation effect, which is smaller than in observations) and the varying performance of model physics under changing resolution (model adjustment effect), which roughly enhances the aggregation‐induced dependence. Finer grid sizes not only increase resolved precipitation, which has higher intensity and thus improves overall precipitation intensity in CAM, but also reduce the area aggregation effect. Thus, the long‐standing drizzling problem in climate models may be mitigated by increasing model resolution and modifying model physics to suppress parameterized convective precipitation and enhance resolved nonconvective precipitation.
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