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Vertical structure of cloud radiative heating in the tropics: confronting the EC-Earth v3.3.1/3P model with satellite observations
SMHI, Research Department, Atmospheric remote sensing.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2551-1697
SMHI, Research Department, Atmospheric remote sensing.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6717-8343
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2021 (English)In: Geoscientific Model Development, ISSN 1991-959X, E-ISSN 1991-9603, Vol. 14, no 6, p. 4087-4101Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Understanding the coupling of clouds to large-scale circulation is one of the grand challenges for the global climate research community. In this context, realistically modelling the vertical structure of cloud radiative heating (CRH) and/or cooling in Earth system models is a key premise to understand this coupling. Here, we evaluate CRH in two versions of the European Community Earth System Model (EC-Earth) using retrievals derived from the combined radar and lidar data from the CloudSat and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellites. One model version is also used with two different horizontal resolutions. Our study evaluates large-scale intraseasonal variability in the vertical structure of CRH and cloud properties and investigates the changes in CRH during different phases of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a process that dominates the interannual climate variability in the tropics. EC-Earth generally captures both the intraseasonal and meridional pattern of variability in CRH over the convectively active and stratocumulus regions and the CRH during the positive and negative phases of ENSO. However, two key differences between model simulations and satellite retrievals emerge. First, the magnitude of CRH, in the upper troposphere, over the convectively active zones is up to twice as large in the models compared to the satellite data. Further dissection of net CRH into its shortwave and longwave components reveals noticeable differences in their vertical structure. The shortwave component of the radiative heating is overestimated by all model versions in the lower-most troposphere and underestimated in the middle troposphere. These over- and underestimates of shortwave heating are partly compensated by an overestimate of longwave cooling in the lowermost troposphere and heating in the middle troposphere. The biases in CRH can be traced back to disagreement in cloud amount and cloud water content. There is no noticeable improvement of CRH by increasing the horizontal resolution in the model alone. Our findings highlight the importance of evaluating models with satellite observations that resolve the vertical structure of clouds and cloud properties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021. Vol. 14, no 6, p. 4087-4101
National Category
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Research subject
Remote sensing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:smhi:diva-6141DOI: 10.5194/gmd-14-4087-2021ISI: 000670319500002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:smhi-6141DiVA, id: diva2:1582730
Available from: 2021-08-03 Created: 2021-08-03 Last updated: 2021-08-03Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, ErikDevasthale, AbhayWyser, Klaus

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Johansson, ErikDevasthale, AbhayTjernstrom, MichaelEkman, Annica M. L.Wyser, KlausL'Ecuyer, Tristan
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