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Page 1© Crown copyright 2007 Constraining the range of climate sensitivity through the diagnosis of cloud regimes Keith Williams 1 and George Tselioudis 2 1 Met Office, Hadley Centre for Climate Change 2 NASA GISS/Columbia University Williams, K.D. and G. Tselioudis (2007) GCM intercomparison of global cloud regimes: Present day evaluation and climate change response. Clim. Dyn. doi:10.1007/s00382-007-0232-2 ENSEMBLES/CFMIP workshop, Paris, 12/04/07
Page 2© Crown copyright 2007 The challenge! Can aspects of the present-day climate be used to provide an evaluation of GCMs which will constrain the range of climate sensitivity? Many types of evaluation have been proposed for GCMs, however very few have been demonstrated to significantly/tightly constrain the range of climate sensitivity.
Page 3© Crown copyright 2007 Identification of cloud regimes The method uses a daily mean ISCCP cloud amount histograms from each grid-point for 5- years worth of data (from observations and present-day and 2xCO 2 simulations from GCMs). A clustering algorithm is applied to each experiment to effectively group together spatio- temporal grid points with similar cloud top pressure, cloud optical depth and fractional total cloud coverage of the grid-box (following Jakob and Tselioudis, 2003). Several of the resulting clusters are subjectively combined to provide a small set of common cloud regimes from the model and observations. The tropics (20N-20S) and the snow/ice-free extra-tropics (polewards of 20N/S) are considered separately.
Page 4© Crown copyright 2007 ISCCP observational cloud regimes (Tropics)
Page 5© Crown copyright 2007 ISCCP cluster location
Page 6© Crown copyright 2007 GCM simulated tropical stratocumulus regime
Page 7© Crown copyright 2007 Climate change response In the cloud regime framework, the mean change in cloud radiative forcing can be thought of as having contributions from: A change in the RFO (Relative Frequency of Occurrence) of the regime A change in the CRF (Cloud Radiative Forcing) within the regime (i.e. a change in the tau-CTP space occupied by the regime/development of different clusters).
Page 8© Crown copyright 2007 Response to doubling CO 2 (Tropics) Much of the variation in the tropical cloud response is due to differences in the radiative response of stratocumulus
Page 9© Crown copyright 2007 Global cloud response to 2xCO 2
Page 10© Crown copyright 2007 Potential to constrain the range of climate sensitivity Suggests that if the models were improved to simulate the present-day cloud regimes more realistically, the range of climate sensitivity is likely to be reduced. The method provides a metric which: Is demonstrated to be relevant to the climate sensitivity Implicitly up-weights those regimes which the GCMs suggest are most important for the global cloud radiative response. When decomposed, provides information to model developers regarding which regimes require attention.
Page 11© Crown copyright 2007 Conclusions Cloud regimes offer a useful framework in which to evaluate a GCM and analyse its climate change response. A significant contribution to the variation in the global cloud radiative response amongst the GCMs analysed here can be associated with differences in the present-day simulation (particularly the frequency of tropical stratocumulus and extra-tropical frontal cloud). (Data from more models are required to check how robust this is.) There appears to be potential to reduce the range of climate sensitivity between GCMs if the present-day cloud regimes were simulated more consistently. The method provides a metric which is demonstrated to be relevant to the climate change response, so might be considered a useful addition to a basket of measures of GCM performance.
Page 12© Crown copyright 2007 Plans for the future Currently developing a method (with Mark Webb) for projecting onto the observed regimes rather than clustering each model independently. The method uses grid-box mean CTP, albedo and cloud cover. Has the advantage of removing subjective elements of the analysis, permits comparison with the full set of ISCCP clusters, and is lighter on the amount of data required. (Although, it doesnt tell you about the natural regimes in your model). The method meets the following criteria: 1) When the ISCCP data is projected onto itself, very similar mean histograms are produced, 2) The climate change analysis leads to the same conclusions and a similar constraint on climate sensitivity as presented here. The proposed metric will be slightly modified so that you cant score highly through a compensation of errors. It is proposed that these lighter diagnostics will be in the AR5 request and that the revised metric will be calculated for all models submitting them.
Page 13© Crown copyright 2007
Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 3PB United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0)
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