Insights of warm-cloud biases in Community Atmospheric Model 5 and 6 from the single-column modeling framework and Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) observations

Yuan Wang, Xiaojian Zheng, Xiquan Dong, Baike Xi, Yuk L. Yung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

There has been a growing concern that most climate models predict precipitation that is too frequent, likely due to lack of reliable subgrid variability and vertical variations in microphysical processes in low-level warm clouds. In this study, the warm-cloud physics parameterizations in the singe-column configurations of NCAR Community Atmospheric Model version 6 and 5 (SCAM6 and SCAM5, respectively) are evaluated using ground-based and airborne observations from the Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) field campaign near the Azores islands during 2017-2018. The 8-month single-column model (SCM) simulations show that both SCAM6 and SCAM5 can generally reproduce marine boundary layer cloud structure, major macrophysical properties, and their transition. The improvement in warm-cloud properties from the Community Atmospheric Model 5 and 6 (CAM5 to CAM6) physics can be found through comparison with the observations. Meanwhile, both physical schemes underestimate cloud liquid water content, cloud droplet size, and rain liquid water content but overestimate surface rainfall. Modeled cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations are comparable with aircraft-observed ones in the summer but are overestimated by a factor of 2 in winter, largely due to the biases in the long-range transport of anthropogenic aerosols like sulfate. We also test the newly recalibrated autoconversion and accretion parameterizations that account for vertical variations in droplet size. Compared to the observations, more significant improvement is found in SCAM5 than in SCAM6. This result is likely explained by the introduction of subgrid variations in cloud properties in CAM6 cloud microphysics, which further suppresses the scheme's sensitivity to individual warm-rain microphysical parameters. The predicted cloud susceptibilities to CCN perturbations in CAM6 are within a reasonable range, indicating significant progress since CAM5 which produces an aerosol indirect effect that is too strong. The present study emphasizes the importance of understanding biases in cloud physics parameterizations by combining SCM with in situ observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8591-8605
Number of pages15
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume23
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 4 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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