A machine learning parameterization of clouds in a coarse-resolution climate model for unbiased radiation
Coarse-grid weather and climate models rely particularly on parameterizations of cloud fields, and coarse-grained cloud fields from a fine-grid reference model are a natural target for a machine-learned parameterization. We machine-learn the coarsened-fine cloud properties as a function of coarse-grid model state in each grid cell of NOAA’s FV3GFS global atmosphere model with 200 km grid spacing, trained using a 3 km fine-grid reference simulation with a modified version of FV3GFS. The ML outputs are coarsened fine fractional cloud cover and liquid and ice cloud condensate mixing ratios, and the inputs are coarse model temperature, pressure, relative humidity, and ice cloud condensate. The predicted fields are skillful and unbiased, but somewhat under-dispersed, resulting in too many partially-cloudy model columns. When the predicted fields are applied diagnostically (offline) in FV3GFS’s radiation scheme, they lead to small biases in global-mean top-of-atmosphere (TOA) and surface radiative fluxes. An unbiased global mean TOA net radiative flux is obtained by setting to zero any predicted cloud with grid cell mean cloud fraction less than a threshold of 6.5%; this does not significantly degrade the ML prediction of cloud properties. The diagnostic, ML-derived radiative fluxes are far more accurate than those obtained with the existing cloud parameterization in the nudged coarse-grid model, as they leverage the accuracy of the fine-grid reference simulation’s cloud properties.