Microphysics of summer clouds in central West Antarctica simulated by the Polar Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) and the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS)
The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) provided a highly detailed set of remote-sensing and surface observations to study Antarctic clouds and surface energy balance, which have received much less attention than for the Arctic due to greater logistical challenges. Limited prior Antarctic cloud observations have slowed the progress of numerical weather prediction in this region. The AWARE observations from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide during December 2015 and January 2016 are used to evaluate the operational forecasts of the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) and new simulations with the Polar Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) 3.9.1. The Polar WRF 3.9.1 simulations are conducted with the WRF single-moment 5-class microphysics (WSM5C) used by the AMPS and with newer generation microphysics schemes. The AMPS simulates few liquid clouds during summer at the WAIS Divide, which is inconsistent with observations of frequent low-level liquid clouds. Polar WRF 3.9.1 simulations show that this result is a consequence of WSM5C. More advanced microphysics schemes simulate more cloud liquid water and produce stronger cloud radiative forcing, resulting in downward longwave and shortwave radiation at the surface more in agreement with observations. Similarly, increased cloud fraction is simulated with the more advanced microphysics schemes. All of the simulations, however, produce smaller net cloud fractions than observed. Ice water paths vary less between the simulations than liquid water paths. The colder and drier atmosphere driven by the Global Forecast System (GFS) initial and boundary conditions for AMPS forecasts produces lesser cloud amounts than the Polar WRF 3.9.1 simulations driven by ERA-Interim.