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Added value of high resolution models in simulating global precipitation characteristics

Zhang, L., Wu, P., Zhou, T., Roberts, M. J. and Schiemann, R. ORCID: (2016) Added value of high resolution models in simulating global precipitation characteristics. Atmospheric Science Letters, 17 (12). pp. 646-657. ISSN 1530-261X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/asl.715


Climate models tend to overestimate percentage of the contribution (to total precipitation) and frequency of light rainfall while underestimate the heavy rainfall. This article investigates the added value of high resolution of atmospheric general circulation models (AGCMs) in simulating the characteristics of global precipitation, in particular extremes. Three AGCMs, global high resolution atmospheric model from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL-HiRAM), the Meteorological Research Institute-atmospheric general circulation model (MRI-AGCM) and the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM), each with one high and one low resolution configurations for the period 1998–2008 are used in this study. Some consistent improvements are found across all three AGCMs with increasing model resolution from 50–83 to 20–35 km. A reduction in global mean frequency and amount percentile of light rainfall (<11 mm day−1) and an increase of medium to heavy rainfall (>20 mm day−1) are shown in high resolution models of GFDL-HiRAM and MRI-AGCM, while the improvement in MetUM is not obvious. A consistent response to high resolution across the three AGCMs is seen from the increase of light rainfall frequency and amount percentile over the desert regions, particularly over the ocean desert regions. It suppresses the overestimation of CDD over ocean desert regions and makes a better performance in high resolution models of GFDL-HiRAM and MRI-AGCM, but worse in MetUM-N512. The impact of model resolution differs greatly among the three AGCMs in simulating the fraction of total precipitation exceeding the 95th percentile daily wet day precipitation. Inconsistencies among models with increased resolution mainly appear over the tropical oceans and in simulating extreme wet conditions, probably due to different reactions of dynamical and physical processes to the resolution, indicating their crucial role in high resolution modelling.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:68471
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons


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