Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1339–1356, 2015
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1339–1356, 2015

Model description paper 12 May 2015

Model description paper | 12 May 2015

Development of the GEOS-5 atmospheric general circulation model: evolution from MERRA to MERRA2

A. Molod1, L. Takacs2, M. Suarez3, and J. Bacmeister4 A. Molod et al.
  • 1University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, USA
  • 2Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Lanham, MD, USA
  • 3NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 4National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. The Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications-2 (MERRA2) version of the Goddard Earth Observing System-5 (GEOS-5) atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) is currently in use in the NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at a wide range of resolutions for a variety of applications. Details of the changes in parameterizations subsequent to the version in the original MERRA reanalysis are presented here. Results of a series of atmosphere-only sensitivity studies are shown to demonstrate changes in simulated climate associated with specific changes in physical parameterizations, and the impact of the newly implemented resolution-aware behavior on simulations at different resolutions is demonstrated. The GEOS-5 AGCM presented here is the model used as part of the GMAO MERRA2 reanalysis, global mesoscale simulations at 10 km resolution through 1.5 km resolution, the real-time numerical weather prediction system, and for atmosphere-only, coupled ocean-atmosphere and coupled atmosphere-chemistry simulations.

The seasonal mean climate of the MERRA2 version of the GEOS-5 AGCM represents a substantial improvement over the simulated climate of the MERRA version at all resolutions and for all applications. Fundamental improvements in simulated climate are associated with the increased re-evaporation of frozen precipitation and cloud condensate, resulting in a wetter atmosphere. Improvements in simulated climate are also shown to be attributable to changes in the background gravity wave drag, and to upgrades in the relationship between the ocean surface stress and the ocean roughness. The series of resolution-aware parameters related to the moist physics was shown to result in improvements at higher resolutions and result in AGCM simulations that exhibit seamless behavior across different resolutions and applications.