10A.4 Effects of Implementing Subgrid-Scale Cloud-Radiation Interactions in a Regional Climate Model

Wednesday, 9 January 2013: 2:15 PM
Ballroom C (Austin Convention Center)
Jerold A. Herwehe, EPA, Research Triangle Park, NC; and K. Alapaty, T. Otte, and C. Nolte

Interactions between atmospheric radiation, clouds, and aerosols are the most important processes that determine the climate and its variability. In regional scale models, when used at relatively coarse spatial resolutions (e.g., larger than 1 km), convective cumulus clouds need to be parameterized as subgrid-scale clouds. Like many groups, our regional climate modeling group at the EPA uses the Weather Research & Forecasting model (WRF) as a regional climate model (RCM). One of the findings from our RCM studies is that the summertime convective systems simulated by the WRF model are highly energetic, leading to excessive surface precipitation. We also found that the WRF model does not consider the interactions between convective clouds and radiation, thereby omitting an important process that drives the climate. Thus, the subgrid-scale cloudiness associated with convective clouds (from shallow cumuli to thunderstorms) does not exist and radiation passes through the atmosphere nearly unimpeded, potentially leading to overly energetic convection. This also has implications for air quality modeling systems that are dependent upon cloud properties from the WRF model, as the failure to account for subgrid-scale cloudiness can lead to problems such as the underrepresentation of aqueous chemistry processes within clouds and the overprediction of ozone from overactive photolysis.

In an effort to advance the climate science of the cloud-aerosol-radiation (CAR) interactions in RCM systems, as a first step we have focused on linking the cumulus clouds with the radiation processes. To this end, our research group has implemented into WRF's Kain-Fritsch (KF) cumulus parameterization a cloudiness formulation that is widely used in global earth system models (e.g., CESM/CAM5). Estimated grid-scale cloudiness and associated condensate are adjusted to account for the subgrid clouds and then passed to WRF's Rapid Radiative Transfer Model – Global (RRTMG) radiation schemes to affect the shortwave and longwave radiative processes. To evaluate the effects of implementing the subgrid-scale cloud-radiation interactions on WRF regional climate simulations, a three-year study period (1988-1990) was simulated over the CONUS using two-way nested domains with 108 km and 36 km horizontal grid spacing, without and with the cumulus feedbacks to radiation, and without and with some form of four dimensional data assimilation (FDDA). Initial and lateral boundary conditions (as well as data for the FDDA, when enabled) were supplied from downscaled NCEP-NCAR Reanalysis II (R2) data sets. Evaluation of the simulation results will be presented comparing regional surface precipitation and temperature statistics with North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) data and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) data, respectively, as well as comparison with available surface radiation (SURFRAD) and satellite (CERES) observations. This research supports improvements in the EPA's WRF-CMAQ modeling system, leading to better predictions of present and future air quality and climate interactions in order to protect human health and the environment.

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