Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
Development and technical paper
27 Mar 2015
Development and technical paper |  | 27 Mar 2015

Aerosol specification in single-column Community Atmosphere Model version 5

B. Lebassi-Habtezion and P. M. Caldwell

Abstract. Single-column model (SCM) capability is an important tool for general circulation model development. In this study, the SCM mode of version 5 of the Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) is shown to handle aerosol initialization and advection improperly, resulting in aerosol, cloud-droplet, and ice crystal concentrations which are typically much lower than observed or simulated by CAM5 in global mode. This deficiency has a major impact on stratiform cloud simulations but has little impact on convective case studies because aerosol is currently not used by CAM5 convective schemes and convective cases are typically longer in duration (so initialization is less important). By imposing fixed aerosol or cloud-droplet and crystal number concentrations, the aerosol issues described above can be avoided. Sensitivity studies using these idealizations suggest that the Meyers et al. (1992) ice nucleation scheme prevents mixed-phase cloud from existing by producing too many ice crystals. Microphysics is shown to strongly deplete cloud water in stratiform cases, indicating problems with sequential splitting in CAM5 and the need for careful interpretation of output from sequentially split climate models. Droplet concentration in the general circulation model (GCM) version of CAM5 is also shown to be far too low (~ 25 cm−3) at the southern Great Plains (SGP) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site.

Short summary
In this study we explore the problem in running default CAM5-SCM, which initializes the aerosol to zero, and test three potential fixes in four different cloud regimes: DYCOMSRF02, MPACE-B, RICO, and ARM95. Stratiform cloud cases (DYCOMS RF02 and MPACE-B) were found to have a strong dependence on aerosol concentration, while convective cases (RICO and ARM95) were relatively insensitive to aerosol specification.