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Impacts of model spatial resolution on the vertical structure of convection in the tropics
- Bui, Hien Xuan, Yu, Jia-Yuh, Chou, Chia
- Climate dynamics 2019 v.52 no.1-2 pp. 15-27
- convection, models, temperature, tropics
- This study examined the impacts of model horizontal resolution on vertical structures of convection in the tropics by performing sensitivity experiments with the NCAR CESM1. It was found that contributions to the total precipitation between top-heavy and bottom-heavy convection are different among various resolutions. A coarser resolution tends to produce a greater contribution from top-heavy convection and, as a result, stronger precipitation in the western Pacific ITCZ; while there is less contribution from bottom-heavy convection and weaker precipitation in the eastern Pacific ITCZ. In the western Pacific ITCZ, where the convection is dominated by a top-heavy structure, the stronger precipitation in coarser resolution experiments is due to changes in temperature and moisture profiles associated with a warmer environment (i.e., thermodynamical effect). In the eastern Pacific ITCZ, where the convection is dictated by a bottom-heavy structure, the stronger precipitation in finer resolution experiments comes from changes in convection structure (i.e., dynamic effect) which favors a greater contribution of bottom-heavy convection as the model resolution goes higher. The moisture budget analysis further suggested that the very different behavior in precipitation tendencies in response to model resolution changes between the western and eastern Pacific ITCZs are determined mainly by changes in convective structure rather than changes in convective strength. This study pointed out the importance of model spatial resolution in reproducing a reasonable contribution to the total precipitation between top-heavy and bottom-heavy structure of convection in the tropical Pacific ITCZs.