Breaking the cloud-parameterization deadlock

AMS Citation:
Randall, D., M. Khairoutdinov, A. Arakawa, and W. W. Grabowski, 2003: Breaking the cloud-parameterization deadlock. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 84, 1547-1564, doi:10.1175/BAMS-84-11-1547.
Resource Type:article
Title:Breaking the cloud-parameterization deadlock
Abstract: A key factor limiting the reliability of simulations of anthropogenic climate change is the inability to accurately represent the various effects of clouds on climate. Despite the best efforts of the community, the problem has resisted solution for several decades. The reasons for this are briefly reviewed and it is argued that it will be many more decades before the problem can be solved through the approaches to cloud parameterization that have been used up to now. An alternative approach, called superparameterization, is then outlined, in which high-resolution cloud system–resolving models (CSRMs) are used in place of the conventional cloud parameterizations. Tests performed with the Community Atmosphere Model show that superparameterizations can give more realistic simulations of the current climate, including greatly improved simulations of the Madden–Julian oscillation and other tropical wave disturbances. Superparameterizations increase the cost of climate simulation by a factor of several hundred dollars, but can make efficient use of massively parallel computers. In addition, superparameterizations make it possible for a climate model to converge to a global CSRM as the horizontal grid spacing of the climate model decreases to a few kilometers. No existing global atmospheric model has this convergence property. Superparameterizations have the potential to greatly increase the reliability of climate change simulations.
Peer Review:Refereed
Copyright Information:Copyright 2003 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be "fair use" under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS's permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form on servers, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license form the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or
OpenSky citable URL: ark:/85065/d790254j
Publisher's Version: 10.1175/BAMS-84-11-1547
  • David Randall
  • Marat Khairoutdinov
  • Akio Arakawa
  • Wojciech Grabowski - NCAR/UCAR
  • Random Profile


    Recent & Upcoming Visitors