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Evaluation of an ice cloud parameterization based on a dynamical-microphysical...

Ma, H.-Y., M. Köhler, J.-L. F. Li, J. D. Farrara, C. R. Mechoso, R. M. Forbes, and D. E. Waliser (2012), Evaluation of an ice cloud parameterization based on a dynamical-microphysical lifetime concept using CloudSat observations and the ERA-Interim reanalysis, J. Geophys. Res., 117, D05210, doi:10.1029/2011JD016275.

This study validates the cloud ice water content (IWC, non-precipitating ice/non-snow) produced by a unique prognostic cloud ice parameterization when used in the UCLA atmospheric general circulation model against CloudSat observations, and also compares it with the ERA-Interim reanalysis. A distinctive aspect of this parameterization is the novel treatment of the conversion of cloud ice to precipitating snow. The ice-to-snow autoconversion time scale is a function of differential infrared radiative heating and environmental static stability. The simulated IWC is in agreement with CloudSat observations in terms of its magnitude and three-dimensional structure. The annual and seasonal means of the zonal-mean IWC profiles from the simulations both show a local maximum in the upper troposphere in the tropics associated with deep convection, and other local maxima in the mid-troposphere in midlatitudes in both hemispheres associated with storm tracks. In contrast to the CloudSat values, the reanalysis shows much smaller IWC values in the tropics and much larger values in the lower troposphere in midlatitudes. The different vertical structures and magnitudes of IWC between the simulations and the reanalysis are likely due to differences in the parameterization of various processes in addition to the ice-to-snow autoconversion, including ice sedimentation, temperature thresholds for ice deposition and cumulus detrainment of cloud ice. However, a series of sensitivity experiments supports the conclusion that the model with a constant autoconversion time scale cannot reproduce the correct IWC distribution in both the tropics and midlatitudes, which strongly suggests the importance of physically based effects on the autoconversion timescale.

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