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Publication Date
17 December 2014

Precipitation Characteristics of CAM5 Physics at Mesoscale Resolution During MC3E and the Impact of Convective Timesclae Choice



The physics suite of the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) has recently been implemented in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to explore the behavior of the parameterization suite at high resolution and within the controlled setting of a limited area model. The initial paper documenting this capability characterized the behavior for a northern high-latitude region. This paper characterizes the precipitation characteristics for continental, midlatitude, springtime conditions during the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E) over the central United States. This period exhibited a range of convective conditions from those driven strongly by large-scale synoptic regimes to more locally driven convection. The study focuses on the precipitation behavior at 32 km grid spacing to better anticipate how the physics will behave in a global model when used at similar grid spacing in the coming years. Importantly, one change to the Zhang-McFarlane deep convective parameterization when implemented in WRF was to make the convective timescale parameter an explicit function of grid spacing. This study examines the sensitivity of the precipitation to the default value of the convective timescale in WRF, which is 600 s for 32 km grid spacing, to the value of 3600 s used for 2° grid spacing in CAM5. For comparison, a 1200 s and an infinite convective timescale are also used. The results show that the 600 s timescale gives the most accurate precipitation amount over the central United States. However, this setting has the worst precipitation diurnal cycle, with the convection too tightly linked to the daytime surface heating. Longer timescales greatly improve the diurnal cycle but result in less precipitation and produce a low bias. An analysis of rain rates shows the accurate precipitation amount with the shorter timescale is assembled from an over abundance of drizzle combined with too few heavy rain events. With longer timescales, one can improve the frequency distribution, particularly for the extreme rain rates. Ultimately, without changing other aspects of the physics, one must decide between accurate diurnal timing and rain amount when choosing an appropriate convective timescale.

“Precipitation Characteristics Of Cam5 Physics At Mesoscale Resolution During Mc3E And The Impact Of Convective Timesclae Choice”. 2014. Journal Of Advances In Modeling Earth Systems 6: 1271-1287. doi:10.1002/2014MS000334.
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