Impact of physical parameterizations on idealized tropical cyclones in the Community Atmosphere Model



This paper explores the impact of the physical parameterization suite on the evolution of an idealized tropical cyclone within the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model (CAM). The CAM versions 3.1 and 4 are used to study the development of an initially weak vortex in an idealized environment over a 10-day simulation period within an aqua-planet setup. The main distinction between CAM 3.1 and CAM 4 lies within the physical parameterization of deep convection. CAM 4 now includes a dilute plume Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) calculation and Convective Momentum Transport (CMT). The finite–volume dynamical core with 26 vertical levels in aqua-planet mode is used at horizontal grid spacings of 1.0°, 0.5° and 0.25°. It is revealed that CAM 4 produces stronger and larger tropical cyclones by day 10 at all resolutions, with a much earlier onset of intensification when compared to CAM 3.1. At the highest resolution CAM 4 also accounts for changes in the storm's vertical structure, such as an increased outward slope of the wind contours with height, when compared to CAM 3.1. An investigation concludes that the new dilute CAPE calculation in CAM 4 is largely responsible for the changes observed in the development, strength and structure of the tropical cyclone.