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  1. Abstract

    While many modeling studies have attempted to estimate how tropical cyclone (TC) precipitation is impacted by climate change, the multitude of analysis techniques and methodologies have resulted in varying conclusions. Simplified models may be able to help overcome this problem. Radiative‐convective equilibrium (RCE) model simulations have been used in various configurations to study fundamental aspects of Earth's climate. While many RCE modeling studies have focused on TC genesis, intensification, and size, limited work has been done using RCE to study TC precipitation. In this study, the response of TC precipitation to sea surface temperature (SST) change is analyzed in global Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) aquaplanet simulations run with Radiative‐Convective Equilibrium Model Intercomparison Project protocols, with the addition of planetary rotation. We expect that the insight gained about how TC precipitation responds to SST warming will help predict how TCs in the real world respond to climate change. In the CAM RCE simulations, the warmer SST simulations have less TCs on average, but the TCs tend to be larger in outer size and more intense. As simulation SST increases, more extreme precipitation rates occur within TCs, and more of the TC precipitation comes from these extreme rates. For extreme (99th percentile) TC precipitation, SST, and TC intensity increases dominate the 8.6% per K increase, while TC outer size changes have little impact. For accumulated TC precipitation, SST, and TC intensity contributions are still the majority, but TC outer size changes also contribute to the 6.6% per K increase.

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  2. Abstract

    To explore the interactions among column processes in the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM), the single‐column version of CAM (SCAM) is integrated for 1000 days in radiative‐convective equilibrium (RCE) with tropical values of boundary conditions, spanning a parameter or configuration space of model physics versions (v5 vs. v6), vertical resolution (standard and 60 levels), sea surface temperature (SST), and some interpretation‐driven experiments. The simulated time‐mean climate is reasonable, near observations and RCE of a cyclic cloud‐resolving model. Updraft detrainment in the deep convection scheme produces distinctive grid‐scale structures in humidity and cloud, which also interact with radiative transfer processes. These grid artifacts average out in multi‐column RCE results reported elsewhere, illustrating the nuts‐and‐bolts interpretability that SCAM adds to the hierarchy of model configurations. Multi‐day oscillations of precipitation arise from descent of warm convection‐capping layers starting near the tropopause, eventually reset by a burst of convective deepening. Experiments reveal how these oscillations depend critically on an internal parameter that controls the number of neutral buoyancy levels allowed for determining cloud top and computing dilute convective available potential energy in the deep convection scheme, and merely modified a little by disabling cloud‐base radiation (heating of cloud base). This strong dependence of transient behavior in 1D on this parameter will be tested in the second part of this work, in which SCAM is coupled to a parameterized dynamics of two‐dimensional, linearized gravity wave, and in the 3D simulations in future study.

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  3. Abstract

    Tropical modes of variability, including the Madden‐Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO), are challenging to represent in climate models. Previous studies suggest their fundamental dependence on zonal asymmetry, but such dependence is rarely addressed with fully coupled ocean dynamics. This study fills the gap by using fully coupled, idealized Community Earth System Model (CESM) and comparing two nominally ocean‐covered configurations with and without a meridional boundary. For the MJO‐like intraseasonal mode, its separation from equatorial Kelvin waves and the eastward propagation of its convective and dynamic signals depend on the zonal gradient of the mean state. For the ENSO‐like interannual mode, in the absence of the ocean's meridional boundary, a circum‐equatorial dominant mode emerges with distinct ocean dynamics. The interpretation of the dependence of these modes on zonal asymmetry is relevant to their representation in realistic climate models.

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  4. Abstract

    Characteristics of, and fundamental differences between, the radiative‐convective equilibrium (RCE) climate states following the Radiative‐Convective Equilibrium Model Intercomparison Project (RCEMIP) protocols in the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) and version 6 (CAM6) are presented. This paper explores the characteristics of clouds, moisture, precipitation and circulation in the RCE state, as well as the tropical response to surface warming, in CAM5 and CAM6 with different parameterizations. Overall, CAM5 simulates higher precipitation rates that result in larger global average precipitation, despite lower outgoing longwave radiation compared to CAM6. Differences in the structure of clouds, particularly the amount and vertical location of cloud liquid, exist between the CAM versions and can, in part, be related to distinct representations of shallow convection and boundary layer processes. Both CAM5 and CAM6 simulate similar peaks in cloud fraction, relative humidity, and cloud ice, linked to the usage of a similar deep convection parameterization. These anvil clouds rise and decrease in extent in response to surface warming. More generally, extreme precipitation, aggregation of convection, and climate sensitivity increase with warming in both CAM5 and CAM6. This analysis provides a benchmark for future studies that explore clouds, convection, and climate in CAM with the RCEMIP protocols now available in the Community Earth System Model. These results are discussed within the context of realistic climate simulations using CAM5 and CAM6, highlighting the usefulness of a hierarchical modeling approach to understanding model and parameterization sensitivities to inform model development efforts.

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  5. Abstract

    Global tropical cyclone (TC) frequency is investigated in a 50‐km‐resolution aquaplanet model forced by zonally symmetric sea surface temperature (SST). TC frequency per unit area is found to be proportional to the Coriolis parameter at the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), as defined by the latitude of maximum precipitation. As the latitude of maximum SST is shifted northward from the equator, the precipitation maximum moves northward and TC frequency increases. When the SST maximum is shifted northward past 25°N, the precipitation maximum remains between 15°N and 20°N, and TC frequency per unit area is approximately constant. When applied to observed precipitation and SST data, the same scaling captures a substantial fraction of observed TCs. Results suggest that future changes in TC activity will be modulated by changes in the large‐scale circulation, and in particular that the ITCZ location is an important determinant of the number of TCs.

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  6. Abstract

    The Walker circulation connects the regions with deep atmospheric convection in the western tropical Pacific to the shallow‐convection, tropospheric subsidence, and stratocumulus cloud decks of the eastern Pacific. The purpose of this study is to better understand the multi‐scale interactions between the Walker circulation, cloud systems, and interactive radiation. To do this we simulate a mock‐Walker Circulation with a full‐physics general circulation model using idealized boundary conditions. Our experiments use a doubly‐periodic domain with grid‐spacing of 1, 2, 25, and 100 km. We thus span the range from General Circulation Models (GCMs) to Cloud‐system Resolving Models (CRMs). Our model is derived from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory atmospheric GCM (AM4.0). We find substantial differences in the mock‐Walker circulation simulated by our GCM‐like and CRM‐like experiments. The CRM‐like experiments have more upper level clouds, stronger overturning circulations, and less precipitation. The GCM‐like experiments have a low‐level cloud fraction that is up to 20% larger. These differences leads to opposite atmospheric responses to changes in the longwave cloud radiative effect (LWCRE). Active LWCRE leads to increased precipitation for our GCMs, but decreased precipitation for our CRMs. The LWCRE leads to a narrower rising branch of the circulation and substantially increases the fraction of precipitation from the large‐scale cloud parameterization. This work demonstrates that a mock‐Walker circulation is a useful generalization of radiative convective equilibrium that includes a large‐scale circulation.

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  7. Abstract

    Idealized models can reveal insights into Earth’s climate system by reducing its complexities. However, their potential is undermined by the scarcity of fully coupled idealized models with components comparable to contemporary, comprehensive Earth System Models. To fill this gap, we compare and contrast the climates of two idealized planets which build on the Simpler Models initiative of the Community Earth System Model (CESM). Using the fully coupled CESM, the Aqua configuration is ocean‐covered except for two polar land caps, and the Ridge configuration has an additional pole‐to‐pole grid‐cell‐wide continent. Contrary to most sea surface temperature profiles assumed for atmosphere‐only aquaplanet experiments with the thermal maximum on the equator, the coupled Aqua configuration is characterized by a global cold belt of wind‐driven equatorial upwelling, analogous to the eastern Pacific cold tongue. The presence of the meridional boundary on Ridge introduces zonal asymmetry in thermal and circulation features, similar to the contrast between western and eastern Pacific. This zonal asymmetry leads to a distinct climate state from Aqua, cooled by ∼2°C via the radiative feedback of clouds and water vapor. The meridional boundary of Ridge is also crucial for producing a more Earth‐like climate state compared to Aqua, including features of atmospheric and ocean circulation, the seasonal cycle of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, and the meridional heat transport. The mean climates of these two basic configurations provide a baseline for exploring other idealized ocean geometries, and their application for investigating various features and scale interactions in the coupled climate system.

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  8. Abstract

    Advances in high‐performance computing make it possible to run atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) over an increasingly wider range of grid resolutions, using either globally uniform or variable‐resolution grids. In principle, this is an exciting opportunity to resolve atmospheric process and scales in a global model and in unprecedented detail, but in practice this grid flexibility is incompatible with the non‐ or weakly converging solutions with increasing horizontal resolution that have long characterized AGCMs. In the the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM), there are robust sensitivities to horizontal resolution that have persisted since the model was first introduced over thirty years ago; the atmosphere progressively dries and becomes less cloudy with resolution, and parametrized deep convective precipitation decreases at the expense of stratiform precipitation. This study documents a convergence experiment using CAM, version 6, and argues that a unifying cause, the sensitivity of resolved dynamical modes to native grid resolution, feeds back into other model components and explains these robust sensitivities to resolution. The increasing magnitudes of resolved vertical velocities with resolution are shown to fit an analytic scaling derived for the equations of motion at hydrostatic scales. This trend in vertical velocities results in an increase in resolved upward moisture fluxes at cloud base, balanced by an increase in stratiform precipitation rates with resolution. Compensating, greater magnitude subsiding motion with resolution has previously been shown to dry out the atmosphere and reduce cloud cover. Here, it is shown that both the increase in condensational heating from stratiform cloud formation and greater subsidence drying contribute to an increase in atmospheric stability with resolution, reducing the activity of parametrized convection. The impact of changing the vertical velocity field with native grid resolution cannot be ignored in any effort to recover convergent solutions in AGCMs, and, in particular, the development of scale‐aware physical parametrizations.

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  9. Abstract

    The Radiative‐Convective Equilibrium Model Intercomparison Project (RCEMIP) is an intercomparison of multiple types of numerical models configured in radiative‐convective equilibrium (RCE). RCE is an idealization of the tropical atmosphere that has long been used to study basic questions in climate science. Here, we employ RCE to investigate the role that clouds and convective activity play in determining cloud feedbacks, climate sensitivity, the state of convective aggregation, and the equilibrium climate. RCEMIP is unique among intercomparisons in its inclusion of a wide range of model types, including atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs), single column models (SCMs), cloud‐resolving models (CRMs), large eddy simulations (LES), and global cloud‐resolving models (GCRMs). The first results are presented from the RCEMIP ensemble of more than 30 models. While there are large differences across the RCEMIP ensemble in the representation of mean profiles of temperature, humidity, and cloudiness, in a majority of models anvil clouds rise, warm, and decrease in area coverage in response to an increase in sea surface temperature (SST). Nearly all models exhibit self‐aggregation in large domains and agree that self‐aggregation acts to dry and warm the troposphere, reduce high cloudiness, and increase cooling to space. The degree of self‐aggregation exhibits no clear tendency with warming. There is a wide range of climate sensitivities, but models with parameterized convection tend to have lower climate sensitivities than models with explicit convection. In models with parameterized convection, aggregated simulations have lower climate sensitivities than unaggregated simulations.

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  10. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Earlier studies have proposed many semiempirical relations between climate and tropical cyclone (TC) activity. To explore these relations, this study conducts idealized aquaplanet experiments using both symmetric and asymmetric sea surface temperature (SST) forcings. With zonally symmetric SST forcings that have a maximum at 10°N, reducing meridional SST gradients around an Earth-like reference state leads to a weakening and southward displacement of the intertropical convergence zone. With nearly flat meridional gradients, warm-hemisphere TC numbers increase by nearly 100 times due particularly to elevated high-latitude TC activity. Reduced meridional SST gradients contribute to a poleward expansion of the tropics, which is associated with a poleward migration of the latitudes where TCs form or reach their lifetime maximum intensity. However, these changes cannot be simply attributed to the poleward expansion of Hadley circulation. Introducing zonally asymmetric SST forcings tends to decrease the global TC number. Regional SST warming—prescribed with or without SST cooling at other longitudes—affects local TC activity but does not necessarily increase TC genesis. While regional warming generally suppresses TC activity in remote regions with relatively cold SSTs, one experiment shows a surprisingly large increase of TC genesis. This increase of TC genesis over relatively cold SSTs is related to local tropospheric cooling that reduces static stability near 15°N and vertical wind shear around 25°N. Modeling results are discussed with scaling analyses and have implications for the application of the “convective quasi-equilibrium and weak temperature gradient” framework. 
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