Habitable Zones & Global Climate

Small Sensitivity of the Simulated Climate of Tidally Locked Aquaplanets to Model Resolution

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
June 17, 2020
Filed under
Small Sensitivity of the Simulated Climate of Tidally Locked Aquaplanets to Model Resolution
Surface temperature (K) in five experiments with resolutions of f45 L26, f19 L26, f05 L26, f19 L51, and f19 L74 (see section 2 for detailed descriptions). In all these experiments, the stellar flux is 1,800 W mβˆ’2 , star temperature is 3,700 K, and rotation period (= orbital period) is 38.66 earth days.

Tidally locked terrestrial planets around low-mass stars are the prime targets of finding potentially habitable exoplanets.

Several atmospheric general circulation models have been employed to simulate their possible climates, however, model intercomparisons showed that there are large differences in the results of the models even when they are forced with the same boundary conditions. In this paper, we examine whether model resolution contributes to the differences. Using the atmospheric general circulation model ExoCAM coupled to a 50-m slab ocean, we examine three different horizontal resolutions (440 km * 550 km, 210 km * 280 km, and 50 km * 70 km in latitude and longitude) and three different vertical resolutions (26, 51, and 74 levels) under the same dynamical core and the same schemes of radiation, convection and clouds. Among the experiments, the differences are within 5 K in global-mean surface temperature and within 0.007 in planetary albedo.

These differences are from cloud feedback, water vapor feedback, and the decreasing trend of relative humidity with increasing resolution. Relatively small-scale downdrafts between upwelling columns over the substellar region are better resolved and the mixing between dry and wet air parcels and between anvil clouds and their environment are enhanced as the resolution is increased. These reduce atmospheric relative humidity and high-level cloud fraction, causing a lower clear-sky greenhouse effect, a weaker cloud longwave radiation effect, and subsequently a cooler climate with increasing model resolution. Overall, the sensitivity of the simulated climate of tidally locked aquaplanets to model resolution is small.

Mengyu Wei, Yixiao Zhang, Jun Yang

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2006.09579 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2006.09579v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Mengyu Wei
[v1] Wed, 17 Jun 2020 00:55:15 UTC (1,117 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) πŸ––πŸ»