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          Institute: MPI für Meteorologie     Collection: Atmosphere in the Earth System     Display Documents

ID: 528227.0, MPI für Meteorologie / Atmosphere in the Earth System
Revealing differences in GCM representations of low clouds
Authors:Medeiros, B.; Stevens, B.
Date of Publication (YYYY-MM-DD):2011
Title of Journal:Climate Dynamics
Start Page:385
End Page:399
Review Status:Peer-review
Audience:Not Specified
Abstract / Description:Aquaplanet configurations of four atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) are compared with standard, Earth-like configurations and observations. The focus here is on tropical, low-level clouds, which have been identified as important for estimates of climate sensitivity. Investigating the distribution of the monthly mean vertical velocity and lower-tropospheric stability, the aquaplanets are seen to capture the core of the distribution of the more Earth-like configurations, whose distributions are, in turn, similar to that of reanalysis data. By conditionally sampling over these distributions, low-cloud regimes are defined, separating shallow cumulus convection from stratocumulus. Within each regime, the GCMs produce similar large-scale environments, yet disparate depictions of the clouds. Aquaplanets lack stratocumulus because of their zonally symmetric boundary conditions, but produce extensive trade-wind regions populated by shallow cumulus clouds just like those in the Earth-like setting. The analysis shows that aquaplanets can be compared with observations, just as well as the Earth-like configuration, with the added ability to focus on particular regimes without complications from geographical or temporal biases.
External Publication Status:published
Document Type:Article
Communicated by:Carola Kauhs
Affiliations:MPI für Meteorologie/Atmosphere in the Earth System
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