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Characterizing the radiative impacts of precipitating snow in the ECMWF...

Li, J.-L. F., R. M. Forbes, D. E. Waliser, G. Stephens, and S. Lee (2014), Characterizing the radiative impacts of precipitating snow in the ECMWF Integrated Forecast System global model, J. Geophys. Res., 119, 9626-9637, doi:10.1002/2014JD021450.

Global weather and climate models often exclude the effects of precipitating hydrometeors and convective core mass on radiative fluxes. In particular, many models split the ice phase into separate “cloud ice” and “snow” categories representing the smaller and larger ice particles, respectively; a separation that is generally not well defined in observations. A version of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) global numerical weather prediction model which includes the radiative effects of cloud liquid, cloud ice, and precipitating snow is used to investigate the impact of including and excluding the radiative effects of the precipitating snow category. The results show that exclusion of precipitating snow in the radiation calculations leads to differences in the shortwave and longwave radiative fluxes of 5–15 W m-2 in strongly precipitating and convective areas. These differences are of the same order of magnitude as the systematic errors in the model compared to satellite observations. Corresponding biases in the radiative heating profiles are on the order of 0.15 K d-1. The results imply that precipitating snow should be included in the radiative calculations in all weather and climate models in the context of improving model fidelity and reducing compensating errors.

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