Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Toward low-cloud-permitting cloud superparameterization with explicit boundary layer turbulence


Systematic biases in the representation of boundary layer (BL) clouds are a leading source of uncertainty in climate projections. A variation on superparameterization (SP) called “ultraparameterization” (UP) is developed, in which the grid spacing of the cloud-resolving models (CRMs) is fine enough (250 × 20 m) to explicitly capture the BL turbulence, associated clouds, and entrainment in a global climate model capable of multiyear simulations. UP is implemented within the Community Atmosphere Model using 2° resolution (∼14,000 embedded CRMs) with one-moment microphysics. By using a small domain and mean-state acceleration, UP is computationally feasible today and promising for exascale computers. Short-duration global UP hindcasts are compared with SP and satellite observations of top-of-atmosphere radiation and cloud vertical structure. The most encouraging improvement is a deeper BL and more realistic vertical structure of subtropical stratocumulus (Sc) clouds, due to stronger vertical eddy motions that promote entrainment. Results from 90 day integrations show climatological errors that are competitive with SP, with a significant improvement in the diurnal cycle of offshore Sc liquid water. Ongoing concerns with the current UP implementation include a dim bias for near-coastal Sc that also occurs less prominently in SP and a bright bias over tropical continental deep convection zones. Nevertheless, UP makes global eddy-permitting simulation a feasible and interesting alternative to conventionally parameterized GCMs or SP-GCMs with turbulence parameterizations for studying BL cloud-climate and cloud-aerosol feedback.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View