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  1. Abstract For the Community Atmosphere Model version 6 (CAM6), an adjustment is needed to conserve dry air mass. This adjustment exposes an inconsistency in how CAM6’s energy budget incorporates water—in CAM6 water in the vapor phase has energy, but condensed phases of water do not. When water vapor condenses, only its latent energy is retained in the model, while its remaining internal, potential, and kinetic energy are lost. A global fixer is used in the default CAM6 model to maintain global energy conservation, but locally the energy tendency associated with water changing phase violates the divergence theorem. This error in energy tendency is intrinsically tied to the water vapor tendency, and reaches its highest values in regions of heavy rainfall, where the error can be as high as 40 W m −2 annually averaged. Several possible changes are outlined within this manuscript that would allow CAM6 to satisfy the divergence theorem locally. These fall into one of two categories: 1) modifying the surface flux to balance the local atmospheric energy tendency and 2) modifying the local atmospheric tendency to balance the surface plus top-of-atmosphere energy fluxes. To gauge which aspects of the simulated climate are most sensitive to this error,more »the simplest possible change—where condensed water still does not carry energy and a local energy fixer is used in place of the global one—is implemented within CAM6. Comparing this experiment with the default configuration of CAM6 reveals precipitation, particularly its variability, to be highly sensitive to the energy budget formulation. Significance Statement This study examines and explains spurious regional sources and sinks of energy in a widely used climate model. These energy errors result from not tracking energy associated with water after it transitions from the vapor phase to either liquid or ice. Instead, the model used a global fixer to offset the energy tendency related to the energy sources and sinks associated with condensed water species. We replace this global fixer with a local one to examine the model sensitivity to the regional energy error and find a large sensitivity in the simulated hydrologic cycle. This work suggests that the underlying thermodynamic assumptions in the model should be revisited to build confidence in the model-simulated regional-scale water and energy cycles.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. To assess deep convective parameterizations in a variety of GCMs and examine the fast-time-scale convective transition, a set of statistics characterizing the pickup of precipitation as a function of column water vapor (CWV), PDFs and joint PDFs of CWV and precipitation, and the dependence of the moisture–precipitation relation on tropospheric temperature is evaluated using the hourly output of two versions of the GFDL Atmospheric Model, version 4 (AM4), NCAR CAM5 and superparameterized CAM (SPCAM). The 6-hourly output from the MJO Task Force (MJOTF)/GEWEX Atmospheric System Study (GASS) project is also analyzed. Contrasting statistics produced from individual models that primarily differ in representations of moist convection suggest that convective transition statistics can substantially distinguish differences in convective representation and its interaction with the large-scale flow, while models that differ only in spatial–temporal resolution, microphysics, or ocean–atmosphere coupling result in similar statistics. Most of the models simulate some version of the observed sharp increase in precipitation as CWV exceeds a critical value, as well as that convective onset occurs at higher CWV but at lower column RH as temperature increases. While some models quantitatively capture these observed features and associated probability distributions, considerable intermodel spread and departures from observations in various aspectsmore »of the precipitation–CWV relationship are noted. For instance, in many of the models, the transition from the low-CWV, nonprecipitating regime to the moist regime for CWV around and above critical is less abrupt than in observations. Additionally, some models overproduce drizzle at low CWV, and some require CWV higher than observed for strong precipitation. For many of the models, it is particularly challenging to simulate the probability distributions of CWV at high temperature.« less