The Cloud Climate Change Initiative (Cloud_cci) satellite simulator has been developed to enable comparisons between the Cloud_cci climate data record (CDR) and climate models. The Cloud_cci simulator is applied here to the EC-Earth global climate model as well as the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO) regional climate model. We demonstrate the importance of using a satellite simulator that emulates the retrieval process underlying the CDR as opposed to taking the model output directly. The impact of not sampling the model at the local overpass time of the polar-orbiting satellites used to make the dataset was shown to be large, yielding up to 100 % error in liquid water path (LWP) simulations in certain regions. The simulator removes all clouds with optical thickness smaller than 0.2 to emulate the Cloud_cci CDR’s lack of sensitivity to very thin clouds. This reduces total cloud fraction (TCF) globally by about 10 % for EC-Earth and by a few percent for RACMO over Europe. Globally, compared to the Cloud_cci CDR, EC-Earth is shown to be mostly in agreement on the distribution of clouds and their height, but it generally underestimates the high cloud fraction associated with tropical convection regions, and overestimates the occurrence and height of clouds over the Sahara and the Arabian subcontinent. In RACMO, TCF is higher than retrieved over the northern Atlantic Ocean but lower than retrieved over the European continent, where in addition the cloud top pressure (CTP) is underestimated. The results shown here demonstrate again that a simulator is needed to make meaningful comparisons between modeled and retrieved cloud properties. It is promising to see that for (nearly) all cloud properties the simulator improves the agreement of the model with the satellite data.
S Eliasson, KG Karlsson, E van Meijgaard, JF Meirink, M Stengel, U Willen. The Cloud_cci simulator v1.0 for the Cloud_cci climate data record and its application to a global and a regional climate model
Status: published, Journal: Geoscientific Model Development, Volume: 12, Year: 2019, First page: 829, Last page: 847, doi: 10.5194/gmd-12-829-2019