The Diurnal Cycle and its Depiction in the Community Climate System Model

Alguo Dai and Kevin Trenberth

National Center for Atmospheric Research
P. O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307

voice: (303) 497 1318
fax: (303) 497 1333


To evaluate the performance of the version 2 of the Community Climate System Model (CCSM2) in simulating the diurnal cycle and diagnose the deficiencies in underlying model physics, ten years of 3-hourly data from a CCSM2 control run are analyzed for global and large-scale features of diurnal variations in surface air temperature, surface pressure, upper-air winds, cloud amount, and precipitation. The model-simulated diurnal variations are compared with available observations, most of which were derived from 3-hourly synoptic reports and some new results are reported for surface air temperatures. The CCSM3 reproduces most of the large-scale tidal variations in surface pressure and upper-air winds, although it overestimates the diurnal pressure tide by 20-50% over low-latitude land and underestimates it over most oceans, the Rockies, and other mid-latitude land areas. The CCSM3 captures the diurnal amplitude (1-6 C) and phase (peak at 1400-1600 local solar time (LST)) of surface air temperature over land, but over ocean the amplitude is too small (. 0.2 C) and the phase is ~2 hours late. The CCSM2 overestimates the mean total cloud amount by 10-20% of the sky from ~15S-15N during both December-February (DJF) and June-August (JJA) and over northern mid- and high-latitude land areas in DJF, whereas it underestimates the cloud amount by 10-30% in the subtropics and parts of mid-latitudes. Over the marine stratus regions west to the continents, the diagnostic cloud scheme in the CCSM2 underestimates the mean stratus clouds even when driven by observational data. In the CCSM2, warm-season daytime moist convection over land starts prematurely around 0800 LST, about 4 hours too early compared with observations, and plateaus from 1100 to 1800 LST, in contrast to a sharp peak around 1600-1700 LST in observations. The premature initiation of convection prevents convective available potential energy (CAPE) from accumulating in the morning and early afternoon and intense convection from occurring in the mid- to late- afternoon As a result of the extended duration of daytime convection over land, the CCSM2 rains too frequently at reduced intensity despite the fairly realistic patterns of rainy days with precipitation =< 1 mm day-1. Furthermore, the convective versus non-convective precipitation ratio is too high in the model as deep convection removes atmospheric moisture too efficiently, The simulated diurnal cycle of precipitation is too weak over the oceans, especially for convective precipitation. These results suggest that substantial improvements are desirable in the CCSM2 in simulating cloud amount, initiation of warm-season deep convection over aldn, and in the diurnal cycle in sea surface temperatures.

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