Incorporating Realistic Surface Longwave Spectral Emissivity in the CESM and the Impact on Simulated Current Climate and Climate

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 13:40
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As of today, most state-of-the-art GCMs still assumes blackbody surface in their longwave radiation scheme. Recent works by Chen et al. (2014) and Feldman et al. (2014) have suggested that the surface spectral emissivity can impact the simulated radiation budget and climate change in a discernible way, especially in high latitudes. Using a recently developed global emissivity database that covers both far-IR and mid-IR, we incorporated the LW surface spectral emissivity into the radiation scheme of the CESM. Effort has been made to ensure a consistent treatment of surface upward LW broadband flux in both the land module and the atmospheric module of the CESM, an important aspect overlooked by the previous study. Then we assess impacts of the inclusion of surface spectral emissivity on simulated mean-state climate and climate changes by carrying out two sets of parallel runs. The first pair of experiments uses the standard slab-ocean CESM v1.1.1 to run two experiments: one control run using forcings at year 2000 level and one sensitivity run abruptly doubling the CO2. The second pair of experiment setup is identical to the first one but using the CESM that we have modified (Surface emissivity is a prognostic variable in our second pair of experiments). The current climate simulation results show that the Sahara desert region in the modified CESM has a warmer surface temperature than in the standard CESM by 2-3K. Over the high-latitude regions, the modified CESM tends to have a colder surface temperature than the standard CESM by 1-2.5K. As a result, the climatological sea ice coverage in the modified CESM is ~8% more than it in the standard CESM in both Polar Regions. All these differences are statistically significant. As for simulated climate change in response to a doubling of CO2, the Arctic region in the modified CESM warms consistently faster than in the standard CESM by 1-2K while the Antarctic region shows a non-uniform pattern of differences between two models. Differences in the changes of sea ice coverage between two models show a zonally-uniform dipole pattern over both polar oceans. The reasons for such differences and its linkage with the change of surface spectral emissivity are further explained.

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