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Somerville, RCJ.  2008.  If I were president: A climate change speech. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 89:1180-1182. Abstract
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Lubin, D, Chen B, Bromwich DH, Somerville RCJ, Lee WH, Hines KM.  1998.  The impact of Antarctic cloud radiative properties on a GCM climate simulation. Journal of Climate. 11:447-462.   10.1175/1520-0442(1998)011<0447:tioacr>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

A sensitivity study to evaluate the impact upon regional and hemispheric climate caused by changing the optical properties of clouds over the Antarctic continent is conducted with the NCAR Community Model version 2 (CCM2). Sensitivity runs are performed in which radiation interacts with ice clouds with particle sizes of 10 and 40 mu m rather than with the standard 10-mu m water clouds. The experiments are carried out for perpetual January conditions with the diurnal cycle considered. The effects of these cloud changes on the Antarctic radiation budget are examined by considering cloud forcing at the top of the atmosphere and net radiation at the surface. Changes of the cloud radiative properties to those of 10-mu m ice clouds over Antarctica have significant Impacts on regional climate: temperature increases throughout the Antarctic troposphere by 1 degrees-2 degrees C and total cloud fraction over Antarctica is smaller than that of the control at low levels but is larger than that of the control in the mid- to upper troposphere. As a result of Antarctic warming and changes in the north-south temperature gradient, the drainage flows at the surface as well as the meridional mass circulation are weakened. Similarly, the circumpolar trough weakens significantly by 4-8 hPa and moves northward by about 4 degrees-5 degrees latitude. This regional mass field adjustment halves the strength of the simulated surface westerly winds. As a result of indirect thermodynamic and dynamic effects, significant changes are observed in the zonal mean circulation and eddies in the middle latitudes. In fact, the simulated impacts of the Antarctic cloud radiative alteration are not confined to the Southern Hemisphere. The meridional mean mass flux, zonal wind, and latent heat release exhibit statistically significant changes in the Tropics and even extratropics of the Northern Hemisphere. The simulation with radiative properties of 40-mu m ice clouds produces colder surface temperatures over Antarctica by up to 3 degrees C compared to the control. Otherwise, the results of the 40-mu m ice cloud simulation are similar to those of the 10-mu m ice cloud simulation.

Yang, Y, Russell LM, Xu L, Lou SJ, Lamjiri MA, Somerville RCJ, Miller AJ, Cayan DR, DeFlorio MJ, Ghan SJ, Liu Y, Singh B, Wang HL, Yoon JH, Rasch PJ.  2016.  Impacts of ENSO events on cloud radiative effects in preindustrial conditions: Changes in cloud fraction and their dependence on interactive aerosol emissions and concentrations. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 121:6321-6335.   10.1002/2015jd024503   AbstractWebsite

We use three 150 year preindustrial simulations of the Community Earth System Model to quantify the impacts of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events on shortwave and longwave cloud radiative effects (CRESW and CRELW). Compared to recent observations from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System data set, the model simulation successfully reproduces larger variations of CRESW and CRELW over the tropics. The ENSO cycle is found to dominate interannual variations of cloud radiative effects. Simulated cooling (warming) effects from CRESW (CRELW) are strongest over the tropical western and central Pacific Ocean during warm ENSO events, with the largest difference between 20 and 60 W m(-2), with weaker effects of 10-40 W m(-2) over Indonesian regions and the subtropical Pacific Ocean. Sensitivity tests show that variations of cloud radiative effects are mainly driven by ENSO-related changes in cloud fraction. The variations in midlevel and high cloud fractions each account for approximately 20-50% of the interannual variations of CRESW over the tropics and almost all of the variations of CRELW between 60 degrees S and 60 degrees N. The variation of low cloud fraction contributes to most of the variations of CRESW over the midlatitude oceans. Variations in natural aerosol concentrations explained 10-30% of the variations of both CRESW and CRELW over the tropical Pacific, Indonesian regions, and the tropical Indian Ocean. Changes in natural aerosol emissions and concentrations enhance 3-5% and 1-3% of the variations of cloud radiative effects averaged over the tropics.

Iacobellis, SF, Somerville RCJ.  2000.  Implications of microphysics for cloud-radiation parameterizations: Lessons from TOGA COARE. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 57:161-183.   10.1175/1520-0469(2000)057<0161:iomfcr>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

A single-column model (SCM) and observational data collected during TOGA COARE were used to investigate the sensitivity of model-produced cloud properties and radiative fluxes to the representation of cloud microphysics in the cloud-radiation parameterizations. Four 78-day SCM numerical experiments were conducted for the atmospheric column overlying the COARE Intensive Flux Array. Each SCM experiment used a different cloud-radiation parameterization with a different representation of cloud microphysics. All the SCM experiments successfully reproduced most of the observed temporal variability in precipitation, cloud fraction, shortwave and longwave cloud forcing, and downwelling surface shortwave flux. The magnitude and temporal variability of the downward surface longwave flux was overestimated by all the SCM experiments. This bins is probably due to clouds forming too low in the model atmosphere. Time-averaged model results were used to examine the sensitivity of model performance to the differences between the four cloud-radiation parameterization packages. The SCM versions that calculated cloud amount as a function of cloud liquid water, instead of using a relative humidity-based cloud scheme, produced smaller amounts of both low and deep convective clouds. Additionally, larger high (cirrus) cloud emissivities were obtained with interactive cloud liquid water schemes than with the relative humidity-based scheme. Surprisingly. calculating cloud optical properties as a function of cloud liquid water amount, instead of parameterizing them based on temperature, humidity, and pressure, resulted in relatively little change in radiative fluxes. However. model radiative fluxes were sensitive to the specification of the effective cloud droplet radius. Optically thicker low clouds and optically thinner high clouds were produced when an interactive effective cloud droplet radius scheme was used instead of specifying a constant value. Comparison of model results to both surface and satellite observations revealed that model experiments that calculated cloud properties as a function of cloud liquid water produced more realistic cloud amounts and radiative fluxes. The most realistic vertical distribution of clouds was obtained from the SCM experiment that included the most complete representation of cloud microphysics. Due to the limitations of SCMs. the above conclusions are model dependent and need to be tested in a general circulation model.

Berque, J, Lubin D, Somerville RCJ.  2004.  Infrared radiative properties of the Antarctic plateau from AVHRR data. Part I: Effect of the snow surface. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 43:350-362.   10.1175/1520-0450(2004)043<0350:irpota>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

The effective scene temperature, or "brightness temperature," measured in channel 3 (3.5-3.9 m m) of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) is shown to be sensitive, in principle, to the effective particle size of snow grains on the Antarctic plateau, over the range of snow grain sizes reported in field studies. In conjunction with a discrete ordinate method radiative transfer model that couples the polar atmosphere with a scattering and absorbing snowpack, the thermal infrared channels of the AVHRR instrument can, therefore, be used to estimate effective grain size at the snow surface over Antarctica. This is subject to uncertainties related to the modeled top-of-atmosphere bidirectional reflectance distribution function resulting from the possible presence of sastrugi and to lack of complete knowledge of snow crystal shapes and habits as they influence the scattering phase function. However, when applied to NOAA-11 and NOAA-12 AVHRR data from 1992, the snow grain effective radii of order 50 mum are retrieved, consistent with field observations, with no apparent discontinuity between two spacecraft having different viewing geometries. Retrieved snow grain effective radii are 10-20-mum larger when the snow grains are modeled as hexagonal solid columns rather than as spheres with a Henyey-Greenstein phase function. Despite the above-mentioned uncertainties, the retrievals are consistent enough that one should be able to monitor climatically significant changes in surface snow grain size due to major precipitation events. It is also shown that a realistic representation of the surface snow grain size is critical when retrieving the optical depth and effective particle radius of clouds for the optically thin clouds most frequently encountered over the Antarctic plateau.

Xu, L, Pierce DW, Russell LM, Miller AJ, Somerville RCJ, Twohy CH, Ghan SJ, Singh B, Yoon J-H, Rasch PJ.  2015.  Interannual to decadal climate variability of sea salt aerosols in the coupled climate model CESM1.0. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. :2014JD022888.   10.1002/2014JD022888   AbstractWebsite

This study examines multi-year climate variability associated with sea salt aerosols and their contribution to the variability of shortwave cloud forcing (SWCF) using a 150-year simulation for pre-industrial conditions of the Community Earth System Model version 1.0 (CESM1). The results suggest that changes in sea salt and related cloud and radiative properties on interannual timescales are dominated by the ENSO cycle. Sea salt variability on longer (interdecadal) timescales is associated with low-frequency variability in the Pacific Ocean similar to the interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), but does not show a statistically significant spectral peak. A multivariate regression suggests that sea salt aerosol variability may contribute to SWCF variability in the tropical Pacific, explaining up to 20-30% of the variance in that region. Elsewhere, there is only a small sea salt aerosol influence on SWCF through modifying cloud droplet number and liquid water path that contributes to the change of cloud effective radius and cloud optical depth (and hence cloud albedo), producing a multi-year aerosol-cloud-wind interaction.

Xie, SC, Xu KM, Cederwall RT, Bechtold P, Delgenio AD, Klein SA, Cripe DG, Ghan SJ, Gregory D, Iacobellis SF, Krueger SK, Lohmann U, Petch JC, Randall DA, Rotstayn LD, Somerville RCJ, Sud YC, Von Salzen K, Walker GK, Wolf A, Yio JJ, Zhang GJ, Zhang MG.  2002.  Intercomparison and evaluation of cumulus parametrizations under summertime midlatitude continental conditions. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 128:1095-1135.   10.1256/003590002320373229   AbstractWebsite

This study reports the Single-Column Model (SCM) part of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM)/the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud System Study (GCSS) joint SCM and Cloud-Resolving Model (CRM) Case 3 intercomparison study, with a focus on evaluation Of Cumulus parametrizations used in SCMs. Fifteen SCMs are evaluated under summertime midlatitude continental conditions using data collected at the ARM Southern Great Plains site during the summer 1997 Intensive Observing Period. Results from ten CRMs are also used to diagnose problems in the SCMs. It is shown that most SCMs can generally capture well the convective events that were well-developed within the SCM domain, while most of them have difficulties in simulating the occurrence of those convective events that only occurred within a small part of the domain. All models significantly underestimate the surface stratiform precipitation. A third of them produce large errors in surface precipitation and thermodynamic structures. Deficiencies in convective triggering mechanisms are thought to be one of the major reasons. Using a triggering mechanism that is based on the vertical integral of parcel buoyant energy without additional appropriate constraints results in overactive convection, which in turn leads to large systematic warm/dry biases in the troposphere. It is also shown that a non-penetrative convection scheme can underestimate the depth of instability for midlatitude convection, which leads to large systematic cold/moist biases in the troposphere. SCMs agree well quantitatively with CRMs in the updraught mass fluxes, while most models significantly underestimate the downdraught mass fluxes. Neglect of mesoscale updraught and downdraught mass fluxes in the SCMs contributes considerably to the discrepancies between the SCMs and the CRMs. In addition, uncertainties in the diagnosed mass fluxes in the CRMs and deficiencies with cumulus parametrizations are not negligible. Similar results are obtained in the sensitivity tests when different forcing approaches are used. Finally. sensitivity tests from an SCM indicate that its simulations can be greatly improved when its triggering mechanism and closure assumption are improved.

Zhang, C, Wang M, Morrison H, Somerville RCJ, Zhang K, Liu X, Li J-LF.  2014.  Investigating ice nucleation in cirrus clouds with an aerosol-enabled Multiscale Modeling Framework. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. 6:998-1015.   10.1002/2014MS000343   Abstract

In this study, an aerosol-dependent ice nucleation scheme has been implemented in an aerosol-enabled Multiscale Modeling Framework (PNNL MMF) to study ice formation in upper troposphere cirrus clouds through both homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation. The MMF model represents cloud scale processes by embedding a cloud-resolving model (CRM) within each vertical column of a GCM grid. By explicitly linking ice nucleation to aerosol number concentration, CRM-scale temperature, relative humidity and vertical velocity, the new MMF model simulates the persistent high ice supersaturation and low ice number concentration (10–100/L) at cirrus temperatures. The new model simulates the observed shift of the ice supersaturation PDF toward higher values at low temperatures following the homogeneous nucleation threshold. The MMF model predicts a higher frequency of midlatitude supersaturation in the Southern Hemisphere and winter hemisphere, which is consistent with previous satellite and in situ observations. It is shown that compared to a conventional GCM, the MMF is a more powerful model to simulate parameters that evolve over short time scales such as supersaturation. Sensitivity tests suggest that the simulated global distribution of ice clouds is sensitive to the ice nucleation scheme and the distribution of sulfate and dust aerosols. Simulations are also performed to test empirical parameters related to auto-conversion of ice crystals to snow. Results show that with a value of 250 μm for the critical diameter, Dcs, that distinguishes ice crystals from snow, the model can produce good agreement with the satellite-retrieved products in terms of cloud ice water path and ice water content, while the total ice water is not sensitive to the specification of Dcs value.

Zhao, Z, Kooperman GJ, Pritchard MS, Russell LM, Somerville RCJ.  2014.  Investigating impacts of forest fires in Alaska and western Canada on regional weather over the northeastern United States using CAM5 global simulations to constrain transport to a WRF-Chem regional domain. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. 119:2013JD020973.   10.1002/2013JD020973   AbstractWebsite

An aerosol-enabled globally driven regional modeling system has been developed by coupling the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) with the Weather Research and Forecasting model with chemistry (WRF-Chem). In this modeling system, aerosol-enabled CAM5, a state-of-the-art global climate model is downscaled to provide coherent meteorological and chemical boundary conditions for regional WRF-Chem simulations. Aerosol particle emissions originating outside the WRF-Chem domain can be a potentially important nonlocal aerosol source. As a test case, the potential impacts of nonlocal forest fire aerosols on regional precipitation and radiation were investigated over the northeastern United States during the summer of 2004. During this period, forest fires in Alaska and western Canada lofted aerosol particles into the midtroposphere, which were advected across the United States. WRF-Chem simulations that included nonlocal biomass burning aerosols had domain-mean aerosol optical depths that were nearly three times higher than those without, which reduced peak downwelling domain-mean shortwave radiation at the surface by ~25 W m−2. In this classic twin experiment design, adding nonlocal fire plume led to near-surface cooling and changes in cloud vertical distribution, while variations in domain-mean cloud liquid water path were negligible. The higher aerosol concentrations in the simulation with the fire plume resulted in a ~10% reduction in domain-mean precipitation coincident with an ~8% decrease in domain-mean CAPE. A suite of simulations was also conducted to explore sensitivities of meteorological feedbacks to the ratio of black carbon to total plume aerosols, as well as to overall plume concentrations. Results from this ensemble revealed that plume-induced near-surface cooling and CAPE reduction occur in a wide range of conditions. The response of moist convection was very complex because of strong thermodynamic internal variability.

Somerville, RCJ.  2014.  Is learning about climate change like having a colonoscopy? Earth's Future. 2:119-121.: Wiley Periodicals, Inc.   10.1002/2013EF000169   Abstract

Many people avoid having valuable medical tests from fear of the results
People resist learning about climate change, fearing unpleasant consequences
Research suggests addressing these concerns early, aids in communication