Atmospheric Moisture Budget and Spatial Resolution Dependenceof Precipitation Extremes in Aquaplanet Simulations

Friday, 19 December 2014: 10:35 AM
Qing Yang1, L. Ruby Leung1, Sara Rauscher2, Todd D. Ringler2 and Mark Taylor3, (1)Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, United States, (2)LANL, LOS ALAMOS, NM, United States, (3)Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, United States
This study investigates the moisture budgets and resolution dependency of precipitation extremes in an aquaplanet framework based on the Community Atmosphere Model, version 4 (CAM4). Moisture budgets from simulations using two different dynamical cores, the Model for Prediction Across Scales-Atmosphere (MPAS-A) and High Order Method Modeling Environment (HOMME), but the same physics parameteri- zations suggest that during precipitation extremes the intensity of precipitation is approximately balanced by the vertical advective moisture transport. The resolution dependency in extremes from simulations at their native grid resolution originates from that of vertical moisture transport, which is mainly explained by changes in dynamics (related to vertical velocity v) with resolution. When assessed at the same grid scale by area- weighted averaging the fine-resolution simulations to the coarse grids, simulations with either dynamical core still demonstrate resolution dependency in extreme precipitation with no convergence over the tropics, but convergence occurs at a wide range of latitudes over the extratropics. The use of lower temporal frequency data (i.e., daily vs 6 hourly) reduces the resolution dependency. Although thermodynamic (moisture) changes become significant in offsetting the effect of dynamics when assessed at the same grid scale, especially over the extratropics, changes in dynamics with resolution are still large and explain most of the resolution dependency during extremes. This suggests that the effects of subgrid-scale variability of v and vertical moisture transport during extremes are not adequately parameterized by the model at coarse resolution. The aquaplanet framework and analysis described in this study provide an important metric for assessing sensitivities of cloud parameterizations to spatial resolution and dynamical cores under extreme conditions.