Impact of a New Cloud Microphysics Parameterization on the Simulations of Mesoscale Convective Systems in E3SM
Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are one of the most climatically significant forms of convection because of their large role in water and energy cycles. The mesoscale features associated with MCS are difficult to represent in climate models because the relevant dynamics and physics are absent or poorly represented with coarse model resolution (∼100 km). Using a regionally refined model (RRM) with 0.25° grid spacing embedded in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM), we explore the impact of cloud microphysics parameterizations on the simulation of precipitation, particularly MCS precipitation over the contiguous United States. The Predicted Particle Properties (P3) cloud microphysics scheme has been modified and implemented into E3SM to overcome the limitations of the default Morrison and Gettelman (MG2) scheme in which rimed precipitating ice particles (graupel/hail) are absent and frozen particles are artificially partitioned into cloud ice and snow. We show that P3 improves the simulation of precipitation statistics including frequency distribution compared with MG2 with a limited effect on the diurnal cycle. P3 predicts higher hourly rain rates, resulting in 20% more MCSs and a higher total MCS precipitation (4.4%) compared to MG2, agreeing better with observations. The improvements with P3 mainly result from improved representations of ice microphysics, which not only produces higher rain rates through melting but also leads to a stronger large-scale ascending motion by releasing more latent heating. This study suggests that improving microphysics parameterization is important for simulating MCS precipitation as future climate model resolutions continue to increase.