Control of shortwave radiation parameterization on tropical climate SST-forced simulation
SST-forced tropical-channel simulations are used to quantify the control of shortwave (SW) parameterization on the mean tropical climate compared to other major model settings (convection, boundary layer turbulence, vertical and horizontal resolutions), and to pinpoint the physical mechanisms whereby this control manifests. Analyses focus on the spatial distribution and magnitude of the net SW radiation budget at the surface (SWnet_SFC), latent heat fluxes, and rainfall at the annual timescale. The model skill and sensitivity to the tested settings are quantified relative to observations and using an ensemble approach. Persistent biases include overestimated SWnet_SFC and too intense hydrological cycle. However, model skill is mainly controlled by SW parameterization, especially the magnitude of SWnet_SFC and rainfall and both the spatial distribution and magnitude of latent heat fluxes over ocean. On the other hand, the spatial distribution of continental rainfall (SWnet_SFC) is mainly influenced by convection parameterization and horizontal resolution (boundary layer parameterization and orography). Physical understanding of the control of SW parameterization is addressed by analyzing the thermal structure of the atmosphere and conducting sensitivity experiments to O3 absorption and SW scattering coefficient. SW parameterization shapes the stability of the atmosphere in two different ways according to whether surface is coupled to atmosphere or not, while O3 absorption has minor effects in our simulations. Over SST-prescribed regions, increasing the amount of SW absorption warms the atmosphere only because surface temperatures are fixed, resulting in increased atmospheric stability. Over land–atmosphere coupled regions, increasing SW absorption warms both atmospheric and surface temperatures, leading to a shift towards a warmer state and a more intense hydrological cycle. This turns in reversal model behavior between land and sea points, with the SW scheme that simulates greatest SW absorption producing the most (less) intense hydrological cycle over land (sea) points. This demonstrates strong limitations for simulating land/sea contrasts in SST-forced simulations.