ARM Develops a Technique for Evaluating Climate Model Performance


Scientists in the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program have developed a new diagnostic technique to evaluate climate model simulations of the effects of clouds and aerosols on solar and terrestrial radiation. A multi-disciplinary team designed the technique that combines detailed field measurements with state-of-the-art radiation transfer models to compute a continuous profile of the radiative heating or cooling of specific regions within the atmospheric column over the ARM site in the Southern Great Plains (SGP). Scientists demonstrated that the simulated profiles at this site are quantifiably better than the representations currently used in climate models. By serving as a benchmark for climate model performance, the ARM SGP heating rate profile enables systematic analysis and comparisons of climate model performance in the climate modeling community. It also provides important information on expected improvements in climate model performance when more accurate cloud and radiation representations are used in climate models.