How well can a convection-permitting climate model reproduce decadal statistics of precipitation, temperature and cloud characteristics?

  • Convection-permitting climate model are promising tools for improved representation of extremes, but the number of regions for which these models have been evaluated are still rather limited to make robust conclusions. In addition, an integrated interpretation of near-surface characteristics (typically temperature and precipitation) together with cloud properties is limited. The objective of this paper is to comprehensively evaluate the performance of a ‘state-of-the-art’ regional convection-permitting climate model for a mid-latitude coastal region with little orographic forcing. For this purpose, an 11-year integration with the COSMO-CLM model at Convection-Permitting Scale (CPS) using a grid spacing of 2.8 km was compared with in-situ and satellite-based observations of precipitation, temperature, cloud properties and radiation (both at the surface and the top of the atmosphere). CPS clearly improves the representation of precipitation, in especially the diurnal cycle, intensity and spatial distribution of hourly precipitation. Improvements in the representation of temperature are less obvious. In fact the CPS integration overestimates both low and high temperature extremes. The underlying cause for the overestimation of high temperature extremes was attributed to deficiencies in the cloud properties: The modelled cloud fraction is only 46 % whereas a cloud fraction of 65 % was observed. Surprisingly, the effect of this deficiency was less pronounced at the radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere due to a compensating error, in particular an overestimation of the reflectivity of clouds when they are present. Overall, a better representation of convective precipitation and a very good representation of the daily cycle in different cloud types were demonstrated. However, to overcome remaining deficiencies, additional efforts are necessary to improve cloud characteristics in CPS. This will be a challenging task due to compensating deficiencies that currently exist in ‘state-of-the-art’ models, yielding a good representation of average climate conditions. In the light of using the CPS models to study climate change it is necessary that these deficiencies are addressed in future research.

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Author:Erwan BrissonORCiD, Kwinten Van Weverberg, Matthias Demuzere, Annemarie Devis, Sajjad Saeed, Martin Stengel, Nicole P. M. van Lipzig
Parent Title (English):Climate dynamics
Place of publication:Berlin ; Heidelberg
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2016/11/28
Date of first Publication:2016/02/10
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2016/11/28
Tag:COSMO-CLM; Cloud properties; Convection-permitting climate model; Extremes; Precipitation
Page Number:19
First Page:3043
Last Page:3061
© The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access at Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Electronic supplementary material: The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00382-016-3012-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0