Articles | Volume 11, issue 6
Research article
13 Dec 2017
Research article |  | 13 Dec 2017

Effects of snow grain shape on climate simulations: sensitivity tests with the Norwegian Earth System Model

Petri Räisänen, Risto Makkonen, Alf Kirkevåg, and Jens B. Debernard

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Cited articles

Aoki, T., Aoki, T., Fukabori, M., Hachikubo, A., Tachibana, Y., and Nishio, F.: Effects of snow physical parameters on spectral albedo and bidirectional reflectance of snow surface, J. Geophys. Res., 105, 10219–10236,, 2000.
Aoki, T., Kuchiki, K., Niwano, M., Kodama, Y., Hosaka, M., and Tanaka, T.: Physically based snow albedo model for calculating broadband albedos and the solar heating profile in snowpack for general circulation models, J. Geophys. Res., 116, D11114,, 2011.
Bentsen, M., Bethke, I., Debernard, J. B., Iversen, T., Kirkevåg, A., Seland, Ø., Drange, H., Roelandt, C., Seierstad, I. A., Hoose, C., and Kristjansson, J. E.: The Norwegian Earth System Model, NorESM1-M – Part 1: Description and basic evaluation of the physical climate, Geosci. Model Dev., 6, 687–720,, 2013.
Bitz, C. M., Shell, K. M., Gent, P. R., Bailey, D. A., Danabasoglu, G., Armour, K. C., Holland, M. M., and Kiehl, J. T.: Climate sensitivity of the Community Climate System Model, version 4, J. Climate, 25, 3053–3070,, 2012.
Briegleb, B. P. and Light, B.: A delta-Eddington multiple scattering parameterization for solar radiation in the sea ice component of the Community Climate System Model, NCAR Technical Note NCAR/TN-472+STR,, 2007.
Short summary
While snow grains are non-spherical, spheres are often assumed in radiation calculations. Here, we replace spherical snow grains with non-spherical snow grains in a climate model. This leads to a somewhat higher snow albedo (by 0.02–0.03), increased snow and sea ice cover, and a distinctly colder climate (by over 1 K in the global mean). It also impacts the radiative effects of aerosols in snow. Overall, this work highlights the important role of snow albedo parameterization for climate models.