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Evaluation of ice cloud representation in the ECMWF and UK Met Office models using CloudSat and CALIPSO data

Delanoe, J., Hogan, R., Forbes, R. M., Bodas-Salcedo, A. and Stein, T. H. M. ORCID: (2011) Evaluation of ice cloud representation in the ECMWF and UK Met Office models using CloudSat and CALIPSO data. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 137 (661). pp. 2064-2078. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.882


Ice cloud representation in general circulation models remains a challenging task, due to the lack of accurate observations and the complexity of microphysical processes. In this article, we evaluate the ice water content (IWC) and ice cloud fraction statistical distributions from the numerical weather prediction models of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the UK Met Office, exploiting the synergy between the CloudSat radar and CALIPSO lidar. Using the last three weeks of July 2006, we analyse the global ice cloud occurrence as a function of temperature and latitude and show that the models capture the main geographical and temperature-dependent distributions, but overestimate the ice cloud occurrence in the Tropics in the temperature range from −60 °C to −20 °C and in the Antarctic for temperatures higher than −20 °C, but underestimate ice cloud occurrence at very low temperatures. A global statistical comparison of the occurrence of grid-box mean IWC at different temperatures shows that both the mean and range of IWC increases with increasing temperature. Globally, the models capture most of the IWC variability in the temperature range between −60 °C and −5 °C, and also reproduce the observed latitudinal dependencies in the IWC distribution due to different meteorological regimes. Two versions of the ECMWF model are assessed. The recent operational version with a diagnostic representation of precipitating snow and mixed-phase ice cloud fails to represent the IWC distribution in the −20 °C to 0 °C range, but a new version with prognostic variables for liquid water, ice and snow is much closer to the observed distribution. The comparison of models and observations provides a much-needed analysis of the vertical distribution of IWC across the globe, highlighting the ability of the models to reproduce much of the observed variability as well as the deficiencies where further improvements are required.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:25968
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society

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