Effects of alternative cloud radiation parameterizations in a general circulation model

Lee, WH, Somerville RCJ.  1996.  Effects of alternative cloud radiation parameterizations in a general circulation model. Annales Geophysicae-Atmospheres Hydrospheres and Space Sciences. 14:107-114.

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carbon-dioxide, climate feedback processes, prediction, scheme


Using the National Center for Atmospheric Research (MCAR) general circulation model (CCM2), a suite of alternative cloud radiation parameterizations has been tested. Our methodology relies on perpetual July integrations driven by +/-2 K sea surface temperature forcing. The tested parameterizations include relative humidity based clouds and versions of schemes involving a prognostic cloud water budget. We are especially interested in testing the effect of cloud optical thickness feedbacks on global climate sensitivity. All schemes exhibit negative cloud radiation feedbacks, i.e., cloud moderates the global warming. However, these negative net cloud radiation feedbacks consist of quite different shortwave and longwave components between a scheme with interactive cloud radiative properties and several schemes with specified cloud water paths. An increase in cloud water content in the warmer climate leads to optically thicker middle- and low-level clouds and in turn negative shortwave feedbacks for the interactive radiative scheme, while a decrease in cloud amount leads to a positive shortwave feedback for the other schemes. For the longwave feedbacks, a decrease in high effective cloudiness for the schemes without interactive radiative properties leads to a negative feedback, while no distinct changes in effective high cloudiness and the resulting feedback are exhibited for the scheme with interactive radiative properties. The resulting magnitude of negative net cloud radiation feed-back is largest for the scheme with interactive radiative properties. Even though the simulated values of cloud radiative forcing for the present climate using this method differ most from the observational data, the approach shows great promise for the future.