Wang, Jingyu; Fan, Jiwen; Houze Jr., Robert A.; Brodzik, Stella R.; Zhang, Kai; Zhang, Guang J.; Ma, Po-Lun

The Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) developed by the Department of Energy has a goal of addressing challenges in understanding the global water cycle. Success depends on correct simulation of cloud and precipitation elements. However, lack of appropriate evaluation metrics has hindered the accurate representation of these elements in general circulation models. We derive metrics from the three-dimensional data of the ground-based Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) network over the US to evaluate both horizontal and vertical structures of precipitation elements. We coarsened the resolution of the radar observations to be consistent with the model resolution and improved the coupling of the Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project Observation Simulator Package (COSP) and E3SM Atmospheric Model Version 1 (EAMv1) to obtain the best possible model output for comparison with the observations. Three warm seasons (2014–2016) of EAMv1 simulations of 3-D radar reflectivity features at an hourly scale are evaluated. A general agreement in domain-mean radar reflectivity intensity is found between EAMv1 and NEXRAD below 4 inline-formulakm altitude; however, the model underestimates reflectivity over the central US, which suggests that the model does not capture the mesoscale convective systems that produce much of the precipitation in that region. The shape of the model-estimated histogram of subgrid-scale reflectivity is improved by correcting the microphysical assumptions in COSP. Different from previous studies that evaluated modeled cloud top height, we find the model severely underestimates radar reflectivity at upper levels – the simulated echo top height is about 5 inline-formulakm lower than in observations – and this result is not changed by tuning any single physics parameter. For more accurate model evaluation, a higher-order consistency between the COSP and the host model is warranted in future studies.

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Wang, Jingyu / Fan, Jiwen / Houze Jr., Robert A. / et al: Using radar observations to evaluate 3-D radar echo structure simulated by the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) version 1. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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