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Publication Date
1 April 2015

Resolution and Dynamical Core Dependence of Atmospheric River Frequency in Global Model Simulations



This study examines the sensitivity of atmospheric river (AR) frequency simulated by a global model with different grid resolutions and dynamical cores. Analysis is performed on aquaplanet simulations using version 4 of Community Atmosphere Model (CAM4) at 240, 120, 60 and 30 km model resolutions each with the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) and High-Order Methods Modeling Environment (HOMME) dynamical cores. The frequency of AR events decreases with model resolution and the HOMME dynamical core produces more AR events than MPAS. Comparing the frequencies determined using absolute and percentile thresholds of large-scale conditions used to define an AR, model sensitivity is found to be related to the overall sensitivity of sub-tropical westerlies, atmospheric precipitable water content and profile and to a lesser extent on extra-tropical Rossby wave activity to model resolution and dynamical core. Real world simulations using MPAS at 120 km and 30 km grid resolutions also exhibit a decrease of AR frequency with increasing resolution over southern East Pacific, but the difference is smaller over northern East Pacific. This inter-hemispheric difference is related to the enhancement of convection in the tropics with increased resolution. This anomalous convection sets off Rossby wave patterns that weaken the subtropical westerlies over southern East Pacific but has relatively little effect on those over northern East Pacific. In comparison to NCEP2 reanalysis, MPAS real world simulations are found to underestimate AR frequencies at both resolutions likely because of their climatologically drier sub-tropics and poleward shifted jets. This study highlights the important links between model climatology of large-scale conditions and extremes.

“Resolution And Dynamical Core Dependence Of Atmospheric River Frequency In Global Model Simulations”. 2015. Journal Of Climate in press. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00567.1.
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