Tropical precipitation simulated by the NCAR Community Climate Model (CCM3): an evaluation based on TRMM satellite measurements



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Texas A&M University


This study evaluates the simulation of tropical precipitation by the Community Climate Model, Version 3, developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. For an evaluation of the annual cycle of precipitation, monthly-mean precipitation rates from an ensemble of CCM3 simulations are compared to those computed from observations of the TRMM satellite over a 44-month period. On regional and sub-regional scales, the comparison fares well over much of the Eastern Hemisphere south of 10◦S and over South America. However, model - satellite differences are large in portions of Central America and the Caribbean, the southern tropical Atlantic, the northern Indian Ocean, and the western equatorial and southern tropical Pacific. Since precipitation in the Tropics is the primary source of latent energy to the general circulation, such large model - satellite differences imply large differences in the amount of latent energy released. Differences are seasonally-dependent north of 10◦N, where model wet biases occur in realistic wet seasons or model-generated artificial wet seasons. South of 10◦N, the model wet biases exist throughout the year or have no recognizable pattern. For an evaluation of the diurnal cycle of precipitation, hourly-averaged precipitation rates from the same ensemble of simulations and for the same 44-month period are compared to observations from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. Comparisons are made for 15◦ longitude ?? 10◦ latitude boxes and for larger geographical areas within the Tropics. The temporally- and spatially-averaged hourly precipitation rates from CCM3 and from TRMM are fit to the diurnal harmonic by the method of linear leastsquares regression, and the phases and the amplitudes of the diurnal cycles are compared. The model??s diurnal cycle is too strong over major land masses, particularly over South America (by a factor of 3), and is too weak over many oceans, particularly the northwestern Tropical Pacific (by a factor of 2). The model-satellite phase differences tend to be more homogeneous. The peak in the daily precipitation in the model consistently precedes the observations nearly everywhere. Phase differences are large over Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Saharan Africa, where CCM3 leads TRMM by 4 hours, 5 to 6 hours, and 9 to 11 hours respectively. A model sensitivity experiment shows that increasing the convective adjustment time scale in the model??s deep convective parameterization reduces its positive amplitude bias over land regions but has no effect on the phase of the diurnal cycle.