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Keywords:

  • ECMWF model;
  • Arctic clouds;
  • ACRF NSA Barrow

[1] This study evaluated the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model-simulated clouds and boundary layer (BL) properties based upon Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility observations at the North Slope of Alaska site during 1999–2007. The ECMWF model-simulated near-surface humidity had seasonal dependent biases as large as 20%, while also experiencing difficulty representing BL temperature inversion height and strength during the transition seasons. Although the ECMWF model captured the seasonal variation of surface heat fluxes, it had sensible heat flux biases over 20 W m−2 in most of the cold months. Furthermore, even though the model captured the general seasonal variations of low-level cloud fraction (LCF) and liquid water path (LWP), it still overestimated the LCF by 20% or more and underestimated the LWP over 50% in the cold season. On average, the ECMWF model underestimated LWP by ∼30 g m−2 but more accurately predicted ice water path for BL clouds. For BL mixed-phase clouds, the model predicted water-ice mass partition was significantly lower than the observations, largely due to the temperature dependence of water-ice mass partition used in the model. The ECMWF model captured the general response of cloud fraction and LWP on large-scale vertical motion changes but overpredicted the magnitude of the difference, especially for LWP. The new cloud and BL schemes of the ECMWF model that were implemented after 2003 only resulted in minor improvements in BL cloud simulations in summer. These results indicate that significant improvements in cold season BL and mixed-phase cloud processes in the model are needed.