A global model simulation for 3-D radiative transfer impact on surface hydrology over the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains
Abstract. We investigate 3-D mountain effects on solar flux distributions and their impact on surface hydrology over the western United States, specifically the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, using the global CCSM4 (Community Climate System Model version 4; Community Atmosphere Model/Community Land Model – CAM4/CLM4) with a 0.23° × 0.31° resolution for simulations over 6 years. In a 3-D radiative transfer parameterization, we have updated surface topography data from a resolution of 1 km to 90 m to improve parameterization accuracy. In addition, we have also modified the upward-flux deviation (3-D–PP (plane-parallel)) adjustment to ensure that the energy balance at the surface is conserved in global climate simulations based on 3-D radiation parameterization. We show that deviations in the net surface fluxes are not only affected by 3-D mountains but also influenced by feedbacks of cloud and snow in association with the long-term simulations. Deviations in sensible heat and surface temperature generally follow the patterns of net surface solar flux. The monthly snow water equivalent (SWE) deviations show an increase in lower elevations due to reduced snowmelt, leading to a reduction in cumulative runoff. Over higher-elevation areas, negative SWE deviations are found because of increased solar radiation available at the surface. Simulated precipitation increases for lower elevations, while it decreases for higher elevations, with a minimum in April. Liquid runoff significantly decreases at higher elevations after April due to reduced SWE and precipitation.