Parameterised diabatic processes in numerical simulations of an extratropical cyclone
Martinez-Alvarado, O. and Plant, R. S. (2014) Parameterised diabatic processes in numerical simulations of an extratropical cyclone. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 140 (682). pp. 1742-1755. ISSN 1477-870X
To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/qj.2254
The parameterisation of diabatic processes in numerical models is critical for the accuracy of weather forecasts and for climate projections. A novel approach to the evaluation of these processes in models is introduced in this contribution. The approach combines a suite of on-line tracer diagnostics with off-line trajectory calculations. Each tracer tracks accumulative changes in potential temperature associated with a particular parameterised diabatic process in the model. A comparison of tracers therefore allows the identification of the most active diabatic processes and their downstream impacts. The tracers are combined with trajectories computed using model-resolved winds, allowing the various diabatic contributions to be tracked back to their time and location of occurrence. We have used this approach to investigate diabatic processes within a simulated extratropical cyclone. We focus on the warm conveyor belt, in which the dominant diabatic contributions come from large-scale latent heating and parameterised convection. By contrasting two simulations, one with standard convection parameterisation settings and another with reduced parameterised convection, the effects of parameterised convection on the structure of the cyclone have been determined. Under reduced parameterised convection conditions, the large-scale latent heating is forced to release convective instability that would otherwise have been released by the convection parameterisation. Although the spatial distribution of precipitation depends on the details of the split between parameterised convection and large-scale latent heating, the total precipitation amount associated with the cyclone remains largely unchanged. For reduced parameterised convection, a more rapid and stronger latent heating episode takes place as air ascends within the warm conveyor belt.