06 Jan 2023
06 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Exploring the ability of the variable-resolution CESM to simulate cryospheric-hydrological variables in High Mountain Asia

René R. Wijngaard1,a, Adam R. Herrington2, William L. Lipscomb2, Gunter R. Leguy2, and Soon-Il An1,3 René R. Wijngaard et al.
  • 1Irreversible Climate Change Research Center, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
  • 2Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder CO, USA
  • 3Climate Theory Lab, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
  • anow at: Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Earth System Models (ESMs) can help to improve the understanding of climate-induced cryospheric-hydrological impacts in complex mountain regions, such as High Mountain Asia (HMA). Coarse ESM grids, however, have difficulties in representing cryospheric-hydrological processes that vary over short distances in complex mountainous environments. Variable-resolution (VR) ESMs could help to overcome these limitations. This study investigates the ability of the VR-Community Earth System Model (VR-CESM) to simulate cryospheric-hydrological variables such as glacier surface mass balance (SMB) over HMA. To this end, a new VR grid is generated with regional grid refinement up to 7 km over HMA. Two coupled atmosphere-land simulations are run for the period 1979–1998. The second simulation is performed with an updated glacier-cover dataset and includes snow and glacier model modifications. To evaluate the outcomes, comparisons are made to gridded outputs derived from a globally uniform 1degree CESM grid, observation-, reanalysis-, and satellite-based datasets, and a glacier model forced by a regional climate model (RCM). In general, climatological biases are reduced compared to the coarse-resolution CESM grid, but glacier SMB is too negative relative to observation-based glaciological and geodetic mass balances as well as RCM-forced glacier model output. In the second simulation, the SMB is improved but still underestimated due to cloud-cover and temperature biases, missing model physics, and incomplete land-atmosphere coupling. The outcomes suggest that VR-CESM could be a useful tool to simulate cryospheric-hydrological variables and to study climate change in mountainous environments, but further developments are needed to better simulate the SMB of mountain glaciers.

René R. Wijngaard et al.

Status: open (until 03 Mar 2023)

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René R. Wijngaard et al.

René R. Wijngaard et al.


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Short summary
We evaluate the ability of the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) to simulate cryospheric-hydrological variables, such as glacier surface mass balance, over High Mountain Asia (HMA), by using a global grid (~111 km) with regional refinement (~7 km) over HMA. Evaluations of two different simulations show that climatological biases are reduced, and glacier SMB is improved (but still is too negative) by modifying the snow and glacier model and using an updated glacier-cover dataset.