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Why is the simulated climatology of tropical cyclones so sensitive to the choice of cumulus parameterization scheme in the WRF model?

Zhang, Chunxi, Wang, Yuqing
Climate dynamics 2018 v.51 no.9-10 pp. 3613-3633
climate, climatology, convection, cooling, energy, hurricanes, momentum, weather research and forecasting model
The sensitivity of simulated tropical cyclones (TCs) to the choice of cumulus parameterization (CP) scheme in the advanced Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF-ARW) version 3.5 is analyzed based on ten seasonal simulations with 20-km horizontal grid spacing over the western North Pacific. Results show that the simulated frequency and intensity of TCs are very sensitive to the choice of the CP scheme. The sensitivity can be explained well by the difference in the low-level circulation in a height and sorted moisture space. By transporting moist static energy from dry to moist region, the low-level circulation is important to convective self-aggregation which is believed to be related to genesis of TC-like vortices (TCLVs) and TCs in idealized settings. The radiative and evaporative cooling associated with low-level clouds and shallow convection in dry regions is found to play a crucial role in driving the moisture-sorted low-level circulation. With shallow convection turned off in a CP scheme, relatively strong precipitation occurs frequently in dry regions. In this case, the diabatic cooling can still drive the low-level circulation but its strength is reduced and thus TCLV/TC genesis is suppressed. The inclusion of the cumulus momentum transport (CMT) in a CP scheme can considerably suppress genesis of TCLVs/TCs, while changes in the moisture-sorted low-level circulation and horizontal distribution of precipitation are trivial, indicating that the CMT modulates the TCLVs/TCs activities in the model by mechanisms other than the horizontal transport of moist static energy.