Evaluation of the statistical cloud scheme in the ECHAM5 model using satellite data

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Abstract

An evaluation of a statistical cloud scheme taking into account subgrid-scale variability for water vapour and cloud condensate in the ECHAM5 general circulation model of the atmosphere is presented. Three-dimensional modelled water vapour, cloud liquid water and cloud ice were distributed stochastically into subcolumns of each grid box and vertically integrated to total water path (TWP). Thus the lower atmosphere is emphasized in the evaluation of TWP due to its exponential profile. The edited model dataset was compared with the globally analyzed distribution of TWP measured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite instrument. The results show that the mean TWP and mean cloud cover are on average relatively well simulated. However, large deficiencies are revealed by the evaluation of both variance and skewness of the probability density function (PDF). Systematically negative deviations of variance are found for almost all regions of the globe. Skewness of the TWP is overestimated in the Tropics and underestimated at high latitudes. Moreover, sensitivity experiments were performed to reveal the deficiencies in the parametrization leading to the observed deviations of variance and skewness of TWP. It was found that the positive bias in skewness in the Tropics can be reduced by modifying the influence of convection on the PDF. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society

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