Climate Dynamics

, Volume 47, Issue 5–6, pp 1807–1826 | Cite as

Control of shortwave radiation parameterization on tropical climate SST-forced simulation

  • Julien Crétat
  • Sébastien Masson
  • Sarah Berthet
  • Guillaume Samson
  • Pascal Terray
  • Jimy Dudhia
  • Françoise Pinsard
  • Christophe Hourdin


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.


Latent heat fluxes Physical parameterizations Radiative budget Rainfall Shortwave radiation schemes Tropical-channel simulations 



This work was funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme, under Grant Agreement Number 282672, EMBRACE Project, and by the Project PULSATION ANR-11-MONU-0010 of the French National Research Agency (ANR). WRF was provided by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research ( Simulations are performed on the Curie supercomputer, owned by GENCI and operated into the TGCC by CEA. We acknowledge PRACE for awarding us access to the Curie supercomputer thought its 3rd, 5th and 9th calls. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julien Crétat
    • 1
  • Sébastien Masson
    • 1
  • Sarah Berthet
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guillaume Samson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pascal Terray
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jimy Dudhia
    • 4
  • Françoise Pinsard
    • 1
  • Christophe Hourdin
    • 1
  1. 1.LOCEAN LaboratorySorbonne Universités (UPMC, Univ Paris 06)-CNRS-IRD-MNHN, IPSLParisFrance
  2. 2.UMR5566 CNRS-CNES-IRD-UPSLEGOSToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences, IISc-NIO-IITM–IRD Joint International LaboratoryIITMPuneIndia
  4. 4.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

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