Precipitation partitioning, tropical clouds, and intraseasonal variability in GFDL AM2

Yanluan Lin, Ming Zhao, Yi Ming, Jean Christophe Golaz, Leo J. Donner, Stephen A. Klein, V. Ramaswamy, Shaocheng Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


A set of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Atmospheric Model version 2 (AM2) sensitivity simulations by varying an entrainment threshold rate to control deep convection occurrence are used to investigate how cumulus parameterization impacts tropical cloud and precipitation characteristics. In the tropics, model convective precipitation (CP) is frequent and light, while large-scale precipitation (LSP) is intermittent and strong. With deep convection inhibited, CP decreases significantly over land and LSP increases prominently over ocean. This results in an overall redistribution of precipitation from land to ocean. A composite analysis reveals that cloud fraction (low and middle) and cloud condensate associated with LSP are substantially larger than those associated with CP. With about the same total precipitation and precipitation frequency distribution over the tropics, simulations having greater LSP fraction tend to have larger cloud condensate and low and middle cloud fraction. Simulations having a greater LSP fraction tend to be drier and colder in the upper troposphere. The induced unstable stratification supports strong transient wind perturbations and LSP. Greater LSP also contributes to greater intraseasonal (20-100 days) precipitation variability. Model LSP has a close connection to the low-level convergence via the resolved grid-scale dynamics and, thus, a close coupling with the surface heat flux. Such wind-evaporation feedback is essential to the development and maintenance of LSP and enhances model precipitation variability. LSP has stronger dependence and sensitivity on column moisture than CP. The moisture-convection feedback, critical to tropical intraseasonal variability, is enhanced in simulations with large LSP. Strong precipitation variability accompanied by a worse mean state implies that an optimal precipitation partitioning is critical to model tropical climate simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5453-5466
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Climate models
  • Convective parameterization
  • Intraseasonal variability


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