Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Publication Date
1 September 2014

Integrating Cloud Processes in the Community Atmosphere Model, Version 5



This paper provides a description of the integrated representation for the cloud processes in the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 (CAM5). CAM5 cloud parameterizations add the following unique characteristics to previous versions: 1) a cloud macrophysical structure with horizontally nonoverlapped deep cumulus, shallow cumulus, and stratus in each grid layer, where each of which has its own cloud fraction, and mass and number concentrations for cloud liquid droplets and ice crystals; 2) stratus–radiation–turbulence interactions that allow CAM5 to simulate marine stratocumulus solely from grid-mean relative humidity without relying on a stability-based empirical formula; 3) prognostic treatment of the number concentrations of stratus liquid droplets and ice crystals, with activated aerosols and detrained in-cumulus condensates as the main sources and with evaporation, sedimentation, and precipitation of stratus condensate as the main sinks; and 4) radiatively active cumulus and snow. By imposing consistency between diagnosed stratus fraction and prognosed stratus condensate, unrealistically empty or highly dense stratus is avoided in CAM5. Because of the activation of the prognostic aerosols and the parameterizations of the radiation and stratiform precipitation production as a function of the cloud droplet size, CAM5 simulates various aerosol indirect effects as well as the direct effects: that is, aerosols affect both the radiation budget and the hydrological cycle. Detailed analysis of various simulations indicates that CAM5 improves upon CAM3/CAM4 in global performance as well as in physical formulation. However, several problems are also identified in CAM5, which can be attributed to deficient regional tuning, inconsistency between various physics parameterizations, and incomplete treatment of physics. Efforts are continuing to further improve CAM5.
“Integrating Cloud Processes In The Community Atmosphere Model, Version 5”. 2014. Journal Of Climate 27: 6821-6856. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00087.1.
Funding Program Area(s)