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Title: Are Atmospheric Updrafts a Key to Unlocking Climate Forcing and Sensitivity?

Abstract

Both climate forcing and climate sensitivity persist as stubborn uncertainties limiting the extent to which climate models can provide actionable scientific scenarios for climate change. A key, explicit control on cloud-aerosol interactions, the largest uncertainty in climate forcing, is the vertical velocity of cloud-scale updrafts. Model-based studies of climate sensitivity indicate that convective entrainment, which is closely related to updraft speeds, is an important control on climate sensitivity. Updraft vertical velocities also drive many physical processes essential to numerical weather prediction. Vertical velocities and their role in atmospheric physical processes have been given very limited attention in models for climate and numerical weather prediction. The relevant physical scales range down to tens of meters and are thus frequently sub-grid and require parameterization. Many state-of-science convection parameterizations provide mass fluxes without specifying vertical velocities, and parameterizations which do provide vertical velocities have been subject to limited evaluation against what have until recently been scant observations. Atmospheric observations imply that the distribution of vertical velocities depends on the areas over which the vertical velocities are averaged. Distributions of vertical velocities in climate models may capture this behavior, but it has not been accounted for when parameterizing cloud and precipitation processes in currentmore » models. New observations of convective vertical velocities offer a potentially promising path toward developing process-level cloud models and parameterizations for climate and numerical weather prediction. Taking account of scale-dependence of resolved vertical velocities offers a path to matching cloud-scale physical processes and their driving dynamics more realistically, with a prospect of reduced uncertainty in both climate forcing and sensitivity.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2];  [3];  [3];  [4]
  1. Princeton Univ., NJ (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. Karlsruhe Inst. of Technology (KIT) (Germany)
  4. UCAR/GFDL, Princeton, NJ (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1436990
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions (Online)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions (Online); Journal Volume: 16; Journal ID: ISSN 1680-7375
Publisher:
European Geosciences Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Donner, Leo J., O'Brien, Travis A., Rieger, Daniel, Vogel, Bernhard, and Cooke, William F. Are Atmospheric Updrafts a Key to Unlocking Climate Forcing and Sensitivity?. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.5194/acp-2016-400.
Donner, Leo J., O'Brien, Travis A., Rieger, Daniel, Vogel, Bernhard, & Cooke, William F. Are Atmospheric Updrafts a Key to Unlocking Climate Forcing and Sensitivity?. United States. doi:10.5194/acp-2016-400.
Donner, Leo J., O'Brien, Travis A., Rieger, Daniel, Vogel, Bernhard, and Cooke, William F. Wed . "Are Atmospheric Updrafts a Key to Unlocking Climate Forcing and Sensitivity?". United States. doi:10.5194/acp-2016-400. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1436990.
@article{osti_1436990,
title = {Are Atmospheric Updrafts a Key to Unlocking Climate Forcing and Sensitivity?},
author = {Donner, Leo J. and O'Brien, Travis A. and Rieger, Daniel and Vogel, Bernhard and Cooke, William F.},
abstractNote = {Both climate forcing and climate sensitivity persist as stubborn uncertainties limiting the extent to which climate models can provide actionable scientific scenarios for climate change. A key, explicit control on cloud-aerosol interactions, the largest uncertainty in climate forcing, is the vertical velocity of cloud-scale updrafts. Model-based studies of climate sensitivity indicate that convective entrainment, which is closely related to updraft speeds, is an important control on climate sensitivity. Updraft vertical velocities also drive many physical processes essential to numerical weather prediction. Vertical velocities and their role in atmospheric physical processes have been given very limited attention in models for climate and numerical weather prediction. The relevant physical scales range down to tens of meters and are thus frequently sub-grid and require parameterization. Many state-of-science convection parameterizations provide mass fluxes without specifying vertical velocities, and parameterizations which do provide vertical velocities have been subject to limited evaluation against what have until recently been scant observations. Atmospheric observations imply that the distribution of vertical velocities depends on the areas over which the vertical velocities are averaged. Distributions of vertical velocities in climate models may capture this behavior, but it has not been accounted for when parameterizing cloud and precipitation processes in current models. New observations of convective vertical velocities offer a potentially promising path toward developing process-level cloud models and parameterizations for climate and numerical weather prediction. Taking account of scale-dependence of resolved vertical velocities offers a path to matching cloud-scale physical processes and their driving dynamics more realistically, with a prospect of reduced uncertainty in both climate forcing and sensitivity.},
doi = {10.5194/acp-2016-400},
journal = {Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions (Online)},
number = ,
volume = 16,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {6}
}

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