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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 4
Geosci. Model Dev., 7, 1733–1766, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Geosci. Model Dev., 7, 1733–1766, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Model description paper 20 Aug 2014

Model description paper | 20 Aug 2014

Development of two-moment cloud microphysics for liquid and ice within the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System Model (GEOS-5)

D. Barahona1, A. Molod1,2, J. Bacmeister3, A. Nenes4, A. Gettelman3, H. Morrison3, V. Phillips5, and A. Eichmann1,6 D. Barahona et al.
  • 1Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 2University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
  • 3National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 5School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 6Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, MD, USA

Abstract. This work presents the development of a two-moment cloud microphysics scheme within version 5 of the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS-5). The scheme includes the implementation of a comprehensive stratiform microphysics module, a new cloud coverage scheme that allows ice supersaturation, and a new microphysics module embedded within the moist convection parameterization of GEOS-5. Comprehensive physically based descriptions of ice nucleation, including homogeneous and heterogeneous freezing, and liquid droplet activation are implemented to describe the formation of cloud particles in stratiform clouds and convective cumulus. The effect of preexisting ice crystals on the formation of cirrus clouds is also accounted for. A new parameterization of the subgrid-scale vertical velocity distribution accounting for turbulence and gravity wave motion is also implemented. The new microphysics significantly improves the representation of liquid water and ice in GEOS-5. Evaluation of the model against satellite retrievals and in situ observations shows agreement of the simulated droplet and ice crystal effective radius, the ice mass mixing ratio and number concentration, and the relative humidity with respect to ice. When using the new microphysics, the fraction of condensate that remains as liquid follows a sigmoidal dependency with temperature, which is in agreement with observations and which fundamentally differs from the linear increase assumed in most models. The performance of the new microphysics in reproducing the observed total cloud fraction, longwave and shortwave cloud forcing, and total precipitation is similar to the operational version of GEOS-5 and in agreement with satellite retrievals. The new microphysics tends to underestimate the coverage of persistent low-level stratocumulus. Sensitivity studies showed that the simulated cloud properties are robust to moderate variation in cloud microphysical parameters. Significant sensitivity remains to variation in the dispersion of the ice crystal size distribution and the critical size for ice autoconversion. Despite these issues, the implementation of the new microphysics leads to a considerably improved and more realistic representation of cloud processes in GEOS-5, and allows the linkage of cloud properties to aerosol emissions.

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