Regionally refined test bed in E3SM atmosphere model version 1 (EAMv1) and applications for high-resolution modeling
Climate simulations with more accurate process-level representation at finer resolutions (<100 km) are a pressing need in order to provide more detailed actionable information to policy makers regarding extreme events in a changing climate. Computational limitation is a major obstacle for building and running high-resolution (HR, here 0.25∘ average grid spacing at the Equator) models (HRMs). A more affordable path to HRMs is to use a global regionally refined model (RRM), which only simulates a portion of the globe at HR while the remaining is at low resolution (LR, 1∘). In this study, we compare the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) atmosphere model version 1 (EAMv1) RRM with the HR mesh over the contiguous United States (CONUS) to its corresponding globally uniform LR and HR configurations as well as to observations and reanalysis data. The RRM has a significantly reduced computational cost (roughly proportional to the HR mesh size) relative to the globally uniform HRM. Over the CONUS, we evaluate the simulation of important dynamical and physical quantities as well as various precipitation measures. Differences between the RRM and HRM over the HR region are predominantly small, demonstrating that the RRM reproduces the precipitation metrics of the HRM over the CONUS. Further analysis based on RRM simulations with the LR vs. HR model parameters reveals that RRM performance is greatly influenced by the different parameter choices used in the LR and HR EAMv1. This is a result of the poor scale-aware behavior of physical parameterizations, especially for variables influencing sub-grid-scale physical processes. RRMs can serve as a useful framework to test physics schemes across a range of scales, leading to improved consistency in future E3SM versions. Applying nudging-to-observations techniques within the RRM framework also demonstrates significant advantages over a free-running configuration for use as a test bed and as such represents an efficient and more robust physics test bed capability. Our results provide additional confirmatory evidence that the RRM is an efficient and effective test bed for HRM development.