DOI: 10.1029/2023ms003726 ISSN: 1942-2466

Assessing Memory in Convection Schemes Using Idealized Tests

Y.‐L. Hwong, M. Colin, P. Aglas‐Leitner, C. J. Muller, S. C. Sherwood
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Global and Planetary Change


Two assumptions commonly applied in convection schemes—the diagnostic and quasi‐equilibrium assumptions—imply that convective activity (e.g., convective precipitation) is controlled only by the large‐scale (macrostate) environment at the time. In contrast, numerical experiments indicate a “memory” or dependence of convection also on its own previous activity whereby subgrid‐scale (microstate) structures boost but are also boosted by convection. In this study we investigated this memory by comparing single‐column model behavior in two idealized tests previously executed by a cloud‐resolving model (CRM). Conventional convection schemes that employ the diagnostic assumption fail to reproduce the CRM behavior. The memory‐capable org and Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique Zoom cold pool schemes partially capture the behavior, but fail to fully exhibit the strong reinforcing feedbacks implied by the CRM. Analysis of this failure suggests that it is because the CRM supports a linear (or superlinear) dependence of the subgrid structure growth rate on the precipitation rate, while the org scheme assumes a sublinear dependence. Among varying versions of the org scheme, the growth rate of the org variable representing subgrid structure is strongly associated with memory strength. These results demonstrate the importance of parameterizing convective memory, and the ability of idealized tests to reveal shortcomings of convection schemes and constrain model structural assumptions.

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