21 Mar 2024
 | 21 Mar 2024

Connection of Surface Snowfall Bias to Cloud Phase Bias – Satellite Observations, ERA5, and CMIP6

Franziska Hellmuth, Tim Carlsen, Anne Sophie Daloz, Robert Oscar David, and Trude Storelvmo

Abstract. Supercooled Liquid-Containing Clouds (sLCCs) play a significant role in Earth's radiative budget and the hydrological cycle, especially through surface snowfall production. Evaluating state-of-the-art climate models with respect to their ability to simulate the frequency of occurrence of sLCCs and the frequency with which they produce snow is, therefore, critically important. Here, we compare these quantities as derived from satellite observations, reanalysis datasets, and Earth System Models from Phase 6 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) and find significant discrepancies between the data sets for mid and high latitudes in both hemispheres. Specifically, we find that the ERA5 reanalysis and ten CMIP6 models consistently overestimate the frequency of sLCCs and snowfall frequencies from sLCCs compared to CloudSat-CALIPSO satellite observations, especially over open ocean regions. The biases are very similar for ERA5 and the CMIP6 models, which indicates that the discrepancies in cloud phase and snowfall stem from differences in the representation of cloud microphysics rather than the representation of meteorological conditions. This, in turn, highlights the need for refinements in the models’ parameterizations of cloud microphysics in order for them to represent cloud phase and snowfall accurately. The thermodynamic phase of clouds and precipitation has a strong influence on simulated climate feedbacks and, thus, projections of future climate. Understanding the origin(s) of the biases identified here is, therefore, crucial for improving the overall reliability of climate models.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Franziska Hellmuth, Tim Carlsen, Anne Sophie Daloz, Robert Oscar David, and Trude Storelvmo

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-754', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Franziska Hellmuth, 04 Jul 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-754', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Apr 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Franziska Hellmuth, 04 Jul 2024