Regional Climate Simulations With the Community Earth System Model

A. Gettelman, P. Callaghan, V. E. Larson, C. M. Zarzycki, J. T. Bacmeister, P. H. Lauritzen, P. A. Bogenschutz, R. B. Neale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The spectral element (SE) variable-resolution (VR) mesh dynamical core is tested in developmental versions of the Community Earth System Model version 2 (CESM2). The SE dynamical core is tested in baroclinic wave, aquaplanet and full physics configurations to evaluate variable-resolution simulations against uniform high and uniform low-resolution simulations. Different physical parameterization suites are also evaluated to gauge their sensitivity to resolution. Dry dynamical core variable-resolution cases compare well to high-resolution tests. More recent versions of the atmospheric physics, including cloud schemes for CESM2, are less sensitive to changes in horizontal resolution. Most of the sensitivity is due to sensitivity to time step and interactions between deep convection and large-scale condensation, which is expected from the closure methods. The resulting full physics SE-VR model produces a similar climate to the global low-resolution mesh and similar high-frequency statistics in the high-resolution region. The SE-VR simulations are able to reproduce uniform high-resolution results, making them an effective tool for regional climate simulations at lower computational cost. Some biases are reduced (orographic precipitation in Western United States), but biases do not necessarily go away at high resolution (e.g., summertime surface temperatures). Variable-resolution grids are a viable alternative to traditional nesting for regional climate studies and are available in CESM2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1265
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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