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Jensen, MP, Vogelmann AM, Collins WD, Zhang GJ, Luke EP.  2008.  Investigation of regional and seasonal variations in marine boundary layer cloud properties from MODIS observations. Journal of Climate. 21:4955-4973.   10.1175/2008jcli1974.1   AbstractWebsite

To aid in understanding the role that marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds play in climate and assist in improving their representations in general circulation models (GCMs), their long-term microphysical and macroscale characteristics are quantified using observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroracdiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Terra satellite. Six years of MODIS pixel-level Cloud products are used from oceanic study regions off the west coasts of California, Peru, the Canary Islands, Angola, and Australia where these cloud types are common. Characterizations are given for their organization (macroscale structure), the associated microphysical properties, and the seasonal dependencies of their variations for scales consistent with the size of a GCM grid box (300 km X 300 km). MBL mesoscale structure is quantified using effective cloud diameter C-D, which is introduced here as a simplified measure of bulk cloud organization; it is straightforward to compute and provides descriptive information beyond that offered by cloud fraction. The interrelationships of these characteristics are explored while considering the influences of the MBL state, such as the occurrence of drizzle. Several commonalities emerge for the five study regions. MBL clouds contain the best natural examples of plane-parallel clouds, but overcast clouds occur in only about 25% of the scenes, which emphasizes the importance of representing broken MBL cloud fields in climate models (that are subgrid scale). During the peak months of cloud occurrence, mesoscale organization (larger C-D) increases such that the fractions of scenes characterized as "overcast" and "clumped" increase at the expense of the "scattered" scenes. Cloud liquid water path and visible optical depth usually trend strongly with C-D, with the largest values occurring for scenes that are drizzling. However, considerable interregional differences exist in these trends, suggesting that different regression functionalities exist for each region. For peak versus off-peak months, the fraction of drizzling scenes (as a function of C-D) are similar for California and Angola, which suggests that a single probability distribution function might be used for their drizzle occurrence in climate models. The patterns are strikingly opposite for Peru and Australia; thus, the contrasts among regions may offer a test bed for model simulations of MBL drizzle occurrence.

Jiang, X, Waliser DE, Xavier PK, Petch J, Klingaman NP, Woolnough SJ, Guan B, Bellon G, Crueger T, DeMott C, Hannay C, Lin H, Hu WT, Kim D, Lappen CL, Lu MM, Ma HY, Miyakawa T, Ridout JA, Schubert SD, Scinocca J, Seo KH, Shindo E, Song XL, Stan C, Tseng WL, Wang WQ, Wu TW, Wu XQ, Wyser K, Zhang GJ, Zhu HY.  2015.  Vertical structure and physical processes of the Madden-Julian oscillation: Exploring key model physics in climate simulations. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 120:4718-4748.   10.1002/2014jd022375   AbstractWebsite

Aimed at reducing deficiencies in representing the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) in general circulation models (GCMs), a global model evaluation project on vertical structure and physical processes of the MJO was coordinated. In this paper, results from the climate simulation component of this project are reported. It is shown that the MJO remains a great challenge in these latest generation GCMs. The systematic eastward propagation of the MJO is only well simulated in about one fourth of the total participating models. The observed vertical westward tilt with altitude of the MJO is well simulated in good MJO models but not in the poor ones. Damped Kelvin wave responses to the east of convection in the lower troposphere could be responsible for the missing MJO preconditioning process in these poor MJO models. Several process-oriented diagnostics were conducted to discriminate key processes for realistic MJO simulations. While large-scale rainfall partition and low-level mean zonal winds over the Indo-Pacific in a model are not found to be closely associated with its MJO skill, two metrics, including the low-level relative humidity difference between high- and low-rain events and seasonal mean gross moist stability, exhibit statistically significant correlations with the MJO performance. It is further indicated that increased cloud-radiative feedback tends to be associated with reduced amplitude of intraseasonal variability, which is incompatible with the radiative instability theory previously proposed for the MJO. Results in this study confirm that inclusion of air-sea interaction can lead to significant improvement in simulating the MJO.

Jiang, XN, Waliser DE, Kim D, Zhao M, Sperber KR, Stern WF, Schubert SD, Zhang GJ, Wang WQ, Khairoutdinov M, Neale RB, Lee MI.  2012.  Simulation of the intraseasonal variability over the Eastern Pacific ITCZ in climate models. Climate Dynamics. 39:617-636.   10.1007/s00382-011-1098-x   AbstractWebsite

During boreal summer, convective activity over the eastern Pacific (EPAC) inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) exhibits vigorous intraseasonal variability (ISV). Previous observational studies identified two dominant ISV modes over the EPAC, i.e., a 40-day mode and a quasi-biweekly mode (QBM). The 40-day ISV mode is generally considered a local expression of the Madden-Julian Oscillation. However, in addition to the eastward propagation, northward propagation of the 40-day mode is also evident. The QBM mode bears a smaller spatial scale than the 40-day mode, and is largely characterized by northward propagation. While the ISV over the EPAC exerts significant influences on regional climate/weather systems, investigation of contemporary model capabilities in representing these ISV modes over the EPAC is limited. In this study, the model fidelity in representing these two dominant ISV modes over the EPAC is assessed by analyzing six atmospheric and three coupled general circulation models (GCMs), including one super-parameterized GCM (SPCAM) and one recently developed high-resolution GCM (GFDL HIRAM) with horizontal resolution of about 50 km. While it remains challenging for GCMs to faithfully represent these two ISV modes including their amplitude, evolution patterns, and periodicities, encouraging simulations are also noted. In general, SPCAM and HIRAM exhibit relatively superior skill in representing the two ISV modes over the EPAC. While the advantage of SPCAM is achieved through explicit representation of the cumulus process by the embedded 2-D cloud resolving models, the improved representation in HIRAM could be ascribed to the employment of a strongly entraining plume cumulus scheme, which inhibits the deep convection, and thus effectively enhances the stratiform rainfall. The sensitivity tests based on HIRAM also suggest that fine horizontal resolution could also be conducive to realistically capture the ISV over the EPAC, particularly for the QBM mode. Further analysis illustrates that the observed 40-day ISV mode over the EPAC is closely linked to the eastward propagating ISV signals from the Indian Ocean/Western Pacific, which is in agreement with the general impression that the 40-day ISV mode over the EPAC could be a local expression of the global Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). In contrast, the convective signals associated with the 40-day mode over the EPAC in most of the GCM simulations tend to originate between 150A degrees E and 150A degrees W, suggesting the 40-day ISV mode over the EPAC might be sustained without the forcing by the eastward propagating MJO. Further investigation is warranted towards improved understanding of the origin of the ISV over the EPAC.