Impact of a revised convective triggering mechanism on Community Atmosphere Model, Version 2, simulations: Results from short-range weather forecasts



[1] This study implements a revised convective triggering condition in the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model, Version 2 (CAM2), model to reduce its excessive warm season daytime precipitation over land. The new triggering mechanism introduces a simple dynamic constraint on the initiation of convection that emulates the collective effects of lower level moistening and upward motion of the large-scale circulation. It requires a positive contribution from the large-scale advection of temperature and moisture to the existing positive convective available potential energy (CAPE) for model convection to start. In contrast, the original convection triggering function in CAM2 assumes that convection is triggered whenever there is positive CAPE, which results in too frequent warm season convection over land arising from strong diurnal variation of solar radiation. We examine the impact of the new trigger on CAM2 simulations by running the climate model in numerical weather prediction (NWP) mode so that more available observations and high-frequency NWP analysis data can be used to evaluate model performance. We show that the modified triggering mechanism has led to considerable improvements in the simulation of precipitation, temperature, moisture, clouds, radiations, surface temperature, and surface sensible and latent heat fluxes when compared to the data collected from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program at its Southern Great Plains (SGP) site. Similar improvements are also seen over other parts of the globe. In particular, the surface precipitation simulation has been significantly improved over both the continental United States and around the globe; the overestimation of high clouds in the equatorial tropics has been substantially reduced; and the temperature, moisture, and zonal wind are more realistically simulated. Results from this study also show that some systematic errors in the CAM2 climate simulations can be detected in the early stage of model integration. Examples are the extremely overestimated high clouds in the tropics in the vicinity of Intertropical Convergence Zone and the spurious precipitation maximum to the east of the Rockies. This has important implications in studies of these model errors since running the climate model in NWP mode allows us to perform a more in-depth analysis during a short time period where more observations are available and different model errors from various processes have not compensated for the systematic errors.