Spatial Resolution dependence of precipitation extremes from atmospheric moisture budgets in Aqua-planet Simulations

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 4:45 PM
Room C101 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Qing Yang, PNNL, Richland, WA; and L. R. Leung, S. Rauscher, T. Ringler, and M. A. Taylor

This study investigates the resolution dependency of precipitation extremes in an aqua-planet framework. Strong resolution dependency of precipitation extremes is seen over both tropics and extra-tropics, and the magnitude of this dependency also varies with dynamical cores. Moisture budget analyses based on aqua-planet simulations with the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) using the Model for Prediction Across Scales Atmosphere (MPAS-A) and High Order Method Modeling Environment (HOMME) dynamical cores but the same physics parameterizations suggest that the resolution dependency of precipitation extremes mainly originates from advective moisture transport in the vertical direction. With both MPAS-A and HOMME dynamical cores, the resolution dependency of the vertical advective moisture convergence is mainly explained by dynamical changes (related to vertical velocity or omega), although the vertical gradients of moisture act like averaging kernels to determine the sensitivity of the overall resolution dependency to the changes in omega at different vertical levels. The natural reduction of variability with coarser resolution, represented by areal data averaging (aggregation) effect, largely explains the resolution dependency in omega. However, after excluding the data aggregation effect in omega, thermodynamic changes become relatively significant in offsetting the effect of dynamics leading to reduced differences between the simulated and aggregated results. Compared to the simulation at fine resolution, the vertical motion during extremes is insufficiently resolved/parameterized at the coarser resolution even after accounting for the natural reduction in variability with coarser resolution, and this is more distinct in the simulation with HOMME. To reduce uncertainties in simulated precipitation extremes, future development in cloud parameterizations must address their sensitivity to spatial resolution as well as dynamical cores.