Impact of Warmer Sea Surface Temperature on the Global Pattern of Intense Convection: Insights From a Global Storm Resolving Model

Sept. 12, 2022

Intense convection has profound consequences for weather and climate. However, it is still unclear how intense convection changes in a warmed climate because traditional climate models are too coarse to explicitly simulate it.

New research led by CIMES Associate Research Scholar Kai-Yuan Cheng investigates the impact of a warmed climate on intense convection, using a kilometer-scale global storm resolving model.

This is the world's first year-long warmed climate simulation in a global storm resolving model, which was performed on CIMES's high-performance computer Stellar with the XSHiELD model developed by Lucas Harris and collaborators at GFDL. Cheng and co-authors find that the warmer ocean enhances the frequency of intense convection with large spatial and seasonal variations. In addition, increases in a widely discussed measure of how unstable the atmosphere is to convection (convective available potential energy) do not necessarily capture the simulated enhancement intense convection frequency. CIMES co-authors include Director Stephan Fueglistaler, HPC Manager Timothy Merlis, and Associate Research Scholars Maximilien Bolot (former) and Linjiong Zhou.