Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 12185-12224, 2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed
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Assessing modelled spatial distributions of ice water path using satellite data
S. Eliasson1, S. A. Buehler1, M. Milz1, P. Eriksson2, and V. O. John3
1Department of Space Science, Luleå Univ. of Technology, Kiruna, Sweden
2Department of Radio and Space Science, Chalmers Univ. of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden
3Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK

Abstract. The climate models used in the IPCC AR4 show large differences in monthly mean cloud ice. The most valuable source of information that can be used to potentially constrain the models is global satellite data. For this, the data sets must be long enough to capture the inter-annual variability of Ice Water Path (IWP). PATMOS-x was used together with ISCCP for the annual cycle evaluation in Fig. 7 while ECHAM-5 was used for the correlation with other models in Table 3. A clear distinction between ice categories in satellite retrievals, as desired from a model point of view, is currently impossible. However, long-term satellite data sets may still be used to indicate the climatology of IWP spatial distribution. We evaluated satellite data sets from CloudSat, PATMOS-x, ISCCP, MODIS and MSPPS in terms of monthly mean IWP, to determine which data sets can be used to evaluate the climate models. IWP data from CloudSat cloud profiling radar provides the most advanced data set on clouds. As CloudSat data are too short to evaluate the model data directly, it was mainly used here to evaluate IWP from the other satellite data sets. ISCCP and MSPPS were shown to have comparatively low IWP values. ISCCP shows particularly low values in the tropics, while MSPPS has particularly low values outside the tropics. MODIS and PATMOS-x were in closest agreement with CloudSat in terms of magnitude and spatial distribution, with MODIS being the best of the two. As PATMOS-x extends over more than 25 years and is in fairly close agreement with CloudSat, it was chosen as the reference data set for the model evaluation. In general there are large discrepancies between the individual climate models, and all of the models show problems in reproducing the observed spatial distribution of cloud-ice. Comparisons consistently showed that ECHAM-5 is the GCM from IPCC AR4 closest to satellite observations.

Citation: Eliasson, S., Buehler, S. A., Milz, M., Eriksson, P., and John, V. O.: Assessing modelled spatial distributions of ice water path using satellite data, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 10, 12185-12224, doi:10.5194/acpd-10-12185-2010, 2010.
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