Low-cloud feedback in CAM5-CLUBB: physical mechanisms and parameter sensitivity analysis

Monday, December 10, 2018 - 13:40
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In this study, the physical mechanism of low-cloud feedbacks is explored by using perturbed-parameter ensemble (PPE) experiments in a unified scheme of boundary layer turbulence and shallow convection, named Cloud Layers Unified by Binormals (CLUBB) coupled to Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). The shortwave cloud feedbacks in CAM5-CLUBB are generally positive in the most stable tropical regime, with less and shallower low clouds in a warmer climate. The shallower and reduced low cloud is related to the weaker turbulence in the planetary boundary layer (PBL), which is possibly triggered by the strengthened stability of the cloud layer. The positive feedback between cloud fraction, cloud top radiative cooling and PBL turbulent mixing could further enhance the decrease in low clouds. The stronger inversion stability of PBL partly counters the decrease in low clouds. Shallow convection strengthens in the warmer climate, but its effect on low-cloud feedback is complicated by the unified treatment of shallow convection and PBL turbulence in CLUBB. Stronger shallow convection usually means more convective drying, but also leads to less PBL turbulence and less low clouds in the present-day climate, which leads to less reduction in low-clouds through the “Beta feedback”. The parameters related to dynamic turbulent structure and double Gaussian closure in CLUBB have been found to be the most influential parameters on low-cloud feedbacks. Our results suggest that a unified treatment of shallow convection and turbulence may give rise to the predominate role of the PBL turbulent mixing in determining low-cloud feedback.

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