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Sensitivity of Tropical Cyclones to Parameterized Convection in the NASA GEOS5 Model

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Thursday, 8 January 2015
Young-Kwon Lim, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and S. Schubert, O. Reale, M. I. Lee, A. Molod, and M. J. Suarez

The sensitivity of tropical cyclones (TCs) to changes in parameterized convection is investigated to improve the simulation of TCs in the North Atlantic. Specifically, the impact of reducing the influence of the Relaxed Arakawa-Schubert (RAS) scheme-based parameterized convection is explored using the Goddard Earth Observing System version5 (GEOS5) model at 0.25 horizontal grid spacing. The years 2005 and 2006 characterized by very active and inactive hurricane seasons, respectively, are selected for simulation.

A reduction in parameterized deep convection results in an increase in TC activity (e.g., TC number and longer life cycle) to more realistic levels compared to the baseline control configuration. The vertical and horizontal structure of the strongest simulated hurricane shows the maximum wind speed greater than 60 m/s and the minimum sea level pressure reaching ~940mb, which are never achieved by the control configuration. The radius of the maximum wind of ~50km, the location of the warm core exceeding 10C, and the horizontal compactness of the hurricane center are all quite realistic without any negatively affecting the atmospheric mean state.

This study reveals that an increase in the threshold of minimum entrainment suppresses parameterized deep convection by entraining more dry air into the typical plume. This leads to cooling and drying at the mid- to upper-troposphere, along with the positive latent heat flux and moistening in the lower-troposphere. The resulting increase in conditional instability provides an environment that is more conducive to TC vortex development and upward moisture flux convergence by dynamically resolved moist convection, thereby increasing TC activity.