Submitted as: development and technical paper 23 Oct 2020

Submitted as: development and technical paper | 23 Oct 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Extending Legacy Climate Models by Adaptive Mesh Refinement for Single Component Tracer Transport: A Case Study with ECHAM6-HAMMOZ (ECHAM30-HAM23-MOZ10)

Yumeng Chen1,2, Konrad Simon1,2, and Jörn Behrens1,2 Yumeng Chen et al.
  • 1Department of Mathematics, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), Universität Hamburg, Grindelberg 5, 20144, Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. Model error in climate models depends on mesh resolution among other factors. While global refinement of the computational mesh is often not feasible computationally, Adaptive Mesh Refinement (AMR) can be an option for spatially localized features. Creating a climate model with AMR has been prohibitive so far. We use AMR in one single model component, namely the tracer transport scheme.M

Particularly, we integrate AMR into the tracer transport module of the atmospheric model ECHAM6 and test our implementation in several idealized scenarios and in a realistic application scenario (dust transport). To achieve this goal, we modify the Flux-Form Semi-Lagrangian (FFSL) transport scheme in ECHAM6 such that we can use it on adaptive meshes while retaining all important properties such as mass conservation of the original FFSL implementation. Our proposed AMR scheme is dimensionally split and ensures that high-resolution information is always propagated on (locally) highly resolved meshes. We also introduce a data structure that can accommodate an adaptive Gaussian grid.

We demonstrate that our AMR scheme improves both accuracy and efficiency compared to the original FFSL scheme. More importantly, our approach improves the representation of transport processes in ECHAM6 for coarse resolution simulations. Hence, this paper suggests that we can overcome the overhead of developing a fully adaptive earth system model by integrating AMR into single components while leaving data structures of the dynamical core untouched. This enables studies to retain well-tested and complex legacy code of existing models while still improving the accuracy of specific components, without sacrificing efficiency.

Yumeng Chen et al.

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Yumeng Chen et al.

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Extending Legacy Climate Models by Adaptive Mesh Refinement for Single Component Tracer Transport Yumeng Chen, Konrad Simon, Jörn Behrens

Yumeng Chen et al.


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Short summary
Mesh adaptivity can reduce the overall model error by only refining meshes in specific areas where necessary in the runtime. Here we suggest a way to integrate mesh adaptivity into an existing earth system model, ECHAM6, without having to redesign the implementation from scratch. We show that while the additional computational effort is manageable the error can be reduced compared to a low resolution standard model using idealized test and relatively realistic dust transport tests.