Increasing the credibility of regional climate simulations by introducing subgrid-scale cloud-radiation interactions

Authors

  • Jerold A. Herwehe,

    Corresponding author
    1. Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
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  • Kiran Alapaty,

    1. Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
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  • Tanya L. Spero,

    1. Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
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  • Christopher G. Nolte

    1. Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
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Abstract

The radiation schemes in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model have previously not accounted for the presence of subgrid-scale cumulus clouds, thereby resulting in unattenuated shortwave radiation, which can lead to overly energetic convection and overpredicted surface precipitation. This deficiency can become problematic when applying WRF as a regional climate model (RCM). Therefore, modifications were made to the WRF model to allow the Kain–Fritsch (KF) convective parameterization to provide subgrid-scale cloud fraction and condensate feedback to the rapid radiative transfer model–global (RRTMG) shortwave and longwave radiation schemes. The effects of these changes are analyzed via 3 year simulations using the standard and modified versions of WRF, comparing the modeled results with the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) and Climate Forecast System Reanalysis data, as well as with available data from the Surface Radiation Network and Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System. During the summer period, including subgrid cloudiness estimated by KF in the RRTMG reduces the surface shortwave radiation, leading to less buoyant energy, which is reflected in a smaller diabatic convective available potential energy, thereby alleviating the overly energetic convection. Overall, these changes have reduced the overprediction of monthly, regionally averaged precipitation during summer for this RCM application, e.g., by as much as 49 mm for the southeastern U.S., to within 0.7% of the NARR value of 221 mm. These code modifications have been incorporated as an option available in the latest version of WRF (v3.6).

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