Simulations of the West African Monsoon with a Superparameterized Climate Model. Part I: The Seasonal Cycle

McCrary, Rachel R.; Randall, David A.; Stan, Cristiana
November 2014
Journal of Climate;Nov2014, Vol. 27 Issue 22, p8303
Academic Journal
The West African monsoon seasonal cycle is simulated with two coupled general circulation models: the Community Climate System Model (CCSM), which uses traditional convective parameterizations, and the 'superparameterized' CCSM (SP-CCSM), in which the atmospheric parameterizations have been replaced with an embedded cloud-resolving model. Compared to CCSM, SP-CCSM better represents the magnitude and spatial patterns of summer monsoon precipitation over West Africa. Most importantly, the region of maximum precipitation is shifted from the Gulf of Guinea in CCSM (not realistic) to over the continent in SP-CCSM. SP-CCSM also develops its own biases-namely, excessive rainfall along the Guinean coast in summer. Biases in rainfall from both models are linked to a misrepresentation of the equatorial Atlantic cold tongue. Warm sea surface temperature (SST) biases are linked to westerly trade wind biases and convection within the intertropical convergence zone. Improved SST biases in SP-CCSM are linked to increased tropospheric warming associated with convection. A weaker-than-observed Saharan heat low is found in both models, which explains why the main band of precipitation does not penetrate as far northward as observed. The latitude-height position of the African easterly jet (AEJ) is comparable to observations in both models, but the meridional temperature and moisture gradients and the strength of the jet are too weak in SP-CCSM and too strong in CCSM. Differences in the AEJ are hypothesized to be influenced by the contrasting representation of African easterly waves in both models; no wave activity is found in CCSM, and strong waves are found in SP-CCSM.


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