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Publication Date
10 July 2016

Can nudging be used to quantify model sensitivities in precipitation and cloud forcing?



Efficient simulation strategies are crucial for the development and evaluation of high-resolution climate models. This paper evaluates simulations with constrained meteorology for the quantification of parametric sensitivities in the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). Two parameters are perturbed as illustrating examples: the convection relaxation time scale (TAU), and the threshold relative humidity for the formation of low-level stratiform clouds (rhminl). Results suggest that the fidelity of the constrained simulations depends on the detailed implementation of nudging and the mechanism through which the perturbed parameter affects precipitation and cloud. The relative computational costs of nudged and free-running simulations are determined by the magnitude of internal variability in the physical quantities of interest, as well as the magnitude of the parameter perturbation. In the case of a strong perturbation in convection, temperature, and/or wind nudging with a 6 h relaxation time scale leads to nonnegligible side effects due to the distorted interactions between resolved dynamics and parameterized convection, while 1 year free-running simulations can satisfactorily capture the annual mean precipitation and cloud forcing sensitivities. In the case of a relatively weak perturbation in the large-scale condensation scheme, results from 1 year free-running simulations are strongly affected by natural noise, while nudging winds effectively reduces the noise, and reasonably reproduces the sensitivities. These results indicate that caution is needed when using nudged simulations to assess precipitation and cloud forcing sensitivities to parameter changes in general circulation models. We also demonstrate that ensembles of short simulations are useful for understanding the evolution of model sensitivities.
“Can Nudging Be Used To Quantify Model Sensitivities In Precipitation And Cloud Forcing?”. 2016. Journal Of Advances In Modeling Earth Systems 8. doi:10.1002/2016MS000659.
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