Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Publication Date
10 April 2015

Parametric sensitivity analysis of precipitation at global and local scales in the Community Atmosphere Model CAM5



We investigate the sensitivity of precipitation characteristics (mean, extreme, and diurnal cycle) to a set of uncertain parameters that influence the qualitative and quantitative behavior of cloud and aerosol processes in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5). We adopt both the Latin hypercube and Quasi-Monte Carlo sampling approaches to effectively explore the high-dimensional parameter space and then conduct two large sets of simulations. One set consists of 1100 simulations (cloud ensemble) perturbing 22 parameters related to cloud physics and convection, and the other set consists of 256 simulations (aerosol ensemble) focusing on 16 parameters related to aerosols and cloud microphysics. In the cloud ensemble, six parameters having the greatest influences on the global mean precipitation are identified, three of which (related to the deep convection scheme) are the primary contributors to the total variance of the phase and amplitude of the precipitation diurnal cycle over land. The extreme precipitation characteristics are sensitive to a fewer number of parameters. Precipitation does not always respond monotonically to parameter change. The influence of individual parameters does not depend on the sampling approaches or concomitant parameters selected. Generally, the Generalized Linear Model is able to explain more of the parametric sensitivity of global precipitation than local or regional features. The total explained variance for precipitation is primarily due to contributions from the individual parameters (75–90% in total). The total variance shows a significant seasonal variability in midlatitude continental regions, but very small in tropical continental regions.

“Parametric Sensitivity Analysis Of Precipitation At Global And Local Scales In The Community Atmosphere Model Cam5”. 2015. Journal Of Advances In Modeling Earth Systems. doi:10.1002/2014MS000354.
Funding Program Area(s)