Simulating Observations of Southern Ocean Clouds and Implications for Climate

Gettelman, A. (2020), Simulating Observations of Southern Ocean Clouds and Implications for Climate, J. Geophys. Res., doi:10.1029/2020JD032619 (submitted).

Southern Ocean (S. Ocean) clouds are important for climate prediction. Yet, previous global climate models failed to accurately represent cloud phase distributions in this observation-sparse region. In this study, data from the Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol, Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES) experiment is compared to constrained simulations from a global climate model (the Community Atmosphere Model, CAM). Nudged versions of CAM are found to reproduce many of the features of detailed in-situ observations, such as cloud location, cloud phase and boundary layer structure. The simulation in CAM6 has improved its representation of S. Ocean clouds with adjustments to the ice nucleation and cloud microphysics schemes that permit more supercooled liquid. Comparisons between modeled and observed hydrometeor size distributions suggest that the modeled hydrometeor size distributions represent the dual peaked shape and form of observed distributions, which is remarkable given the scale difference between model and observations. Comparison to satellite observations of cloud physics is difficult due to model assumptions that do not match retrieval assumptions. Some biases in the model's representation of S. Ocean clouds and aerosols remain, but the detailed cloud physical parameterization provides a basis for process level improvement and direct comparisons to observations. This is crucial because cloud feedbacks and climate sensitivity are sensitive to the representation of Southern Ocean clouds.

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Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)