Xiaoqing Wu, Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University


Studying the movement of water through the atmosphere has been an area of both interest and challenge. Climate models have been trying to recreate the dynamic processes of the atmospheric hydrologic cycle in attempt to better understand past, current, and future climate. However, this has proved to be quite difficult as the hydrologic cycle is not fully understood nor simple to simulate. It is shown though that climate models such as the Community Atmosphere Model are able to capture and recreate most of the patterns and paths of water as it moves through the atmosphere. Though, many of the long-standing biases in climate models are still found to be present in current versions of the model. This study will compare model output from the Community Atmosphere Version 5 with observational data. The variables that were compared were radiative surface temperature, evaporation minus precipitation, precipitation rate, precipitable water, total cloud fraction, and cloud liquid water path. The model tends to capture the zonal patterns of moisture across the Earth with only a few discrepancies near the mid-latitudes and with total cloud fraction. The model also tends to be accurate with the magnitude of the variables though there is a major discrepancy with cloud liquid water path. As a whole, the results suggest that current climate models are able to be an effective tool in trying to better understand both the hydrologic cycle and past climates.

Copyright Owner

Kyle A. Knight


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