Academic Commons


Tropical Intraseasonal Variability in Version 3 of the GFDL Atmosphere Model

Benedict, James J.; Maloney, Eric D.; Sobel, Adam H.; Frierson, Dargan M.; Donner, Leo J.

Tropical intraseasonal variability is examined in version 3 of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Atmosphere Model (AM3). In contrast to its predecessor AM2, AM3 uses a new treatment of deep and shallow cumulus convection and mesoscale clouds. The AM3 cumulus parameterization is a mass-flux-based scheme but also, unlike that in AM2, incorporates subgrid-scale vertical velocities; these play a key role in cumulus microphysical processes. The AM3 convection scheme allows multiphase water substance produced in deep cumuli to be transported directly into mesoscale clouds, which strongly influence large-scale moisture and radiation fields. The authors examine four AM3 simulations using a control model and three versions with different modifications to the deep convection scheme. In the control AM3, using a convective closure based on CAPE relaxation, both MJO and Kelvin waves are weak relative to those in observations. By modifying the convective closure and trigger assumptions to inhibit deep cumuli, AM3 produces reasonable intraseasonal variability but a degraded mean state. MJO-like disturbances in the modified AM3 propagate eastward at roughly the observed speed in the Indian Ocean but up to 2 times the observed speed in the west Pacific Ocean. Distinct differences in intraseasonal convective organization and propagation exist among the modified AM3 versions. Differences in vertical diabatic heating profiles associated with the MJO are also found. The two AM3 versions with the strongest intraseasonal signals have a more prominent “bottom heavy” heating profile leading the disturbance center and “top heavy” heating profile following the disturbance. The more realistic heating structures are associated with an improved depiction of moisture convergence and intraseasonal convective organization in AM3.

Geographic Areas


Also Published In

Journal of Climate

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
February 21, 2013