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Temperature and Water Vapor Variance Scaling in Global Models: Comparisons to...

Kahn, B., J. Teixeira, E. J. Fetzer, A. Gettelman, S. M. Hristova-Veleva, X. Huang, A. K. Kochanski, M. Kohlër, S. K. Krueger, R. Wood, and M. Zhao (2011), Temperature and Water Vapor Variance Scaling in Global Models: Comparisons to Satellite and Aircraft Data, J. Atmos. Sci., 68, 2156-2168, doi:10.1175/2011JAS3737.1.
Abstract: 

Observations of the scale dependence of height-resolved temperature T and water vapor q variability are valuable for improved subgrid-scale climate model parameterizations and model evaluation. Variance spectral benchmarks for T and q obtained from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) are compared to those generated by state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction ‘‘analyses’’ and ‘‘free-running’’ climate model simulations with spatial resolution comparable to AIRS. The T and q spectra from both types of models are generally too steep, with small-scale variance up to several factors smaller than AIRS. However, the two model analyses more closely resemble AIRS than the two free-running model simulations. Scaling exponents obtained for AIRS column water vapor (CWV) and height-resolved layers of q are also compared to the superparameterized Community Atmospheric Model (SP-CAM), highlighting large differences in the magnitude of CWV variance and the relative flatness of height-resolved q scaling in SP-CAM. Height-resolved q spectra obtained from aircraft observations during the Variability of the American Monsoon Systems Ocean– Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-REx) demonstrate changes in scaling exponents that depend on the observations’ proximity to the base of the subsidence inversion with scale breaks that occur at approximately the dominant cloud scale (;10–30 km). This suggests that finer spatial resolution requirements must be considered for future satellite observations of T and q than those currently planned for infrared and microwave satellite sounders.

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