Articles | Volume 13, issue 18
Research article
27 Sep 2013
Research article |  | 27 Sep 2013

Large differences in reanalyses of diabatic heating in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere

J. S. Wright and S. Fueglistaler

Abstract. We present the time mean heat budgets of the tropical upper troposphere (UT) and lower stratosphere (LS) as simulated by five reanalysis models: the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), European Reanalysis (ERA-Interim), Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), Japanese 25-yr Reanalysis and Japan Meteorological Agency Climate Data Assimilation System (JRA-25/JCDAS), and National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) Reanalysis 1. The simulated diabatic heat budget in the tropical UTLS differs significantly from model to model, with substantial implications for representations of transport and mixing. Large differences are apparent both in the net heat budget and in all comparable individual components, including latent heating, heating due to radiative transfer, and heating due to parameterised vertical mixing. We describe and discuss the most pronounced differences. Discrepancies in latent heating reflect continuing difficulties in representing moist convection in models. Although these discrepancies may be expected, their magnitude is still disturbing. We pay particular attention to discrepancies in radiative heating (which may be surprising given the strength of observational constraints on temperature and tropospheric water vapour) and discrepancies in heating due to turbulent mixing (which have received comparatively little attention). The largest differences in radiative heating in the tropical UTLS are attributable to differences in cloud radiative heating, but important systematic differences are present even in the absence of clouds. Local maxima in heating and cooling due to parameterised turbulent mixing occur in the vicinity of the tropical tropopause.

Final-revised paper