Articles | Volume 13, issue 21
Research article
08 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 08 Nov 2013

A sensitivity study of radiative fluxes at the top of atmosphere to cloud-microphysics and aerosol parameters in the community atmosphere model CAM5

C. Zhao, X. Liu, Y. Qian, J. Yoon, Z. Hou, G. Lin, S. McFarlane, H. Wang, B. Yang, P.-L. Ma, H. Yan, and J. Bao

Abstract. In this study, we investigated the sensitivity of net radiative fluxes (FNET) at the top of atmosphere (TOA) to 16 selected uncertain parameters mainly related to the cloud microphysics and aerosol schemes in the Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5). We adopted a quasi-Monte Carlo (QMC) sampling approach to effectively explore the high-dimensional parameter space. The output response variables (e.g., FNET) are simulated using CAM5 for each parameter set, and then evaluated using the generalized linear model analysis. In response to the perturbations of these 16 parameters, the CAM5-simulated global annual mean FNET ranges from −9.8 to 3.5 W m−2 compared to 1.9 W m−2 with the default parameter values. Variance-based sensitivity analysis is conducted to show the relative contributions of individual parameter perturbations to the global FNET variance. The results indicate that the changes in the global mean FNET are dominated by changes in net cloud forcing (CF) within the parameter ranges being investigated. The threshold size parameter related to auto-conversion of cloud ice to snow is identified as one of the most influential parameters for FNET in CAM5 simulations. The strong heterogeneous geographic distribution of FNET variance shows that parameters have a clear localized effect over regions where they are acting. However, some parameters also have non-local impacts on FNET variance. Although external factors, such as perturbations of anthropogenic and natural emissions, largely affect FNET variance at the regional scale, their impact is weaker than that of model internal parameters in terms of simulating global mean FNET. The interactions among the 16 selected parameters contribute a relatively small portion to the total FNET variance over most regions of the globe. This study helps us better understand the parameter uncertainties in the CAM5 model, and thus provides information for further calibrating uncertain model parameters with the largest sensitivity.

Final-revised paper