Modeling Cloud and Precipitation Processes – Considerations for Future Satellite Missions

Monday, 15 December 2014: 4:00 PM
Susan C van den Heever1, Wei-Kuo Tao2, Stephen Millican Saleeby1 and Di Wu2, (1)Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States, (2)NASA/Goddard Space Flight Cent, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Rapid developments in computing resources have allowed for cloud resolving model (CRM) simulations to be conducted over larger domains at higher spatial and temporal resolutions. Indeed, global CRMs are now a reality. Within such modeling frameworks, microphysical processes cannot be isolated from the vertical velocity that drives them, from the impact of energy exchanges due to phase changes, nor from the precipitation they produce, as has historically been the case with more highly parameterized frameworks. The increasing utilization of such high resolution, large-domain CRMs therefore introduces a new set of observational challenges. Instead of only taking into account global distributions of clouds and precipitation, observational strategies now need to be adapted to focus on the actual microphysical processes and feedbacks that are responsible for such cloud and precipitation distributions. Incorrectly representing such processes and feedbacks has significant implications for precipitation rates, efficiency and partitioning; the horizontal and vertical distribution of clouds; anvil ice properties; the partitioning between the liquid water and ice phase; and the location and amount of latent energy release associated with phase changes, all of which have subsequent implications for the global energy and water budget.

Numerous microphysical and dynamical processes, and the feedbacks between them, are not well represented in CRMs. However, correctly simulating the magnitude of vertical velocity, as well as various ice processes appear to be particularly challenging. This talk will focus on the range of precipitation and cloud responses obtained within CRM simulations due to changes in the manner various ice processes are represented including melting, riming and shedding. Those parameters causing the greatest simulated cloud and precipitation responses will be identified. Factors impacting the representation of vertical velocity will also be addressed. Finally, suggestions will be made regarding those processes that should form the focus of future satellite missions if significant improvements are to be made in representing such processes in regional and global CRMs.