Microphysics -- Advancing Cloud Microphysics Representations in Climate System Models


About Microphysics
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Motivation: Cloud feedbacks, chemical interactions in clouds (aqueous chemistry and scavenging), and aerosol indirect effects (aerosol impacts on cloud particles affecting radiation and precipitation) are critical uncertainties that should be addressed for understanding the evolution of the climate system. The current formulation of cloud distributions and microphysics in the CCSM Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) is overly simplistic in representing these processes. More complex formulations of cloud microphysics are required in CAM to allow more realistic representations treatment of chemistry in clouds and aerosol indirect effects, as well as to properly describe interactions with other components of the climate system, such as vegetation on the land surface.

Substantial theory exists on the details of cloud microphysics. Detailed models of microphysical processes running either independently or within cloud resolving models have existed for many years. There is also a great deal of work on representating subgrid-scale variability in global models. These formulations are starting to evolve into codes for global models of the atmosphere and the climate system.

The time is now ripe to assess the state of science and formulations in more detailed models to integrate these ideas into the CCSM framekwork. In particular, the moist physics parameterizations (clouds, microphysics, convection) are ripe for evolution in the next few years. In addition, a great deal of work within and outside of the CCSM community is occurring on this issue.

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