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Title: Atmospheric Moisture Budget and Spatial Resolution Dependence of Precipitation Extremes in Aquaplanet Simulations

This study investigates the resolution dependency of precipitation extremes in an aqua-planet framework. Strong resolution dependency of precipitation extremes is seen over both tropics and extra-tropics, and the magnitude of this dependency also varies with dynamical cores. Moisture budget analyses based on aqua-planet simulations with the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) using the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) and High Order Method Modeling Environment (HOMME) dynamical cores but the same physics parameterizations suggest that during precipitation extremes moisture supply for surface precipitation is mainly derived from advective moisture convergence. The resolution dependency of precipitation extremes mainly originates from advective moisture transport in the vertical direction. At most vertical levels over the tropics and in the lower atmosphere over the subtropics, the vertical eddy transport of mean moisture field dominates the contribution to precipitation extremes and its resolution dependency. Over the subtropics, the source of moisture, its associated energy, and the resolution dependency during extremes are dominated by eddy transport of eddies moisture at the mid- and upper-troposphere. With both MPAS and HOMME dynamical cores, the resolution dependency of the vertical advective moisture convergence is mainly explained by dynamical changes (related to vertical velocity or omega), although the vertical gradients ofmore » moisture act like averaging kernels to determine the sensitivity of the overall resolution dependency to the changes in omega at different vertical levels. The natural reduction of variability with coarser resolution, represented by areal data averaging (aggregation) effect, largely explains the resolution dependency in omega. The thermodynamic changes, which likely result from non-linear feedback in response to the large dynamical changes, are small compared to the overall changes in dynamics (omega). However, after excluding the data aggregation effect in omega, thermodynamic changes become relatively significant in offsetting the effect of dynamics leading to reduce differences between the simulated and aggregated results. Compared to MPAS, the simulated stronger vertical motion with HOMME also results in larger resolution dependency. Compared to the simulation at fine resolution, the vertical motion during extremes is insufficiently resolved/parameterized at the coarser resolution even after accounting for the natural reduction in variability with coarser resolution, and this is more distinct in the simulation with HOMME. To reduce uncertainties in simulated precipitation extremes, future development in cloud parameterizations must address their sensitivity to spatial resolution as well as dynamical cores.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Journal of Climate, 27(10):3565-3581
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
precipitation; spatial; resolution; dynamical; core; aqua-planet; simulations