AbstractGlobal convection-permitting models enable weather prediction from local to planetary scales and are therefore often expected to transform the weather prediction enterprise. This potential, however, depends on the predictability of the atmosphere, which was explored here through identical twin experiments using the Model for Prediction Across Scales. The simulations were produced on a quasi-uniform 4-km mesh, which allowed the illumination of error growth from convective to global scales. During the first two days, errors grew through moist convection and other mesoscale processes, and the character of the error growth resembled the case of turbulence. Between 2 and 13 days, errors grew with the background baroclinic instability, and the character of the error growth mirrored the case of turbulence. The existence of an error growth regime with properties similar to turbulence confirmed the radical idea of E. N. Lorenz that the atmosphere has a finite limit of predictability, no matter how small the initial error. The global-mean predictability limit of the troposphere was estimated here to be around 2–3 weeks, which is in agreement with previous work. However, scale-dependent predictability limits differed between the divergent and rotational wind component and between vertical levels, indicating that atmospheric predictability is a more complex problem than that of homogeneous, isotropic turbulence. The practical value of global cloud-resolving models is discussed in light of the various aspects of atmospheric predictability.
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences – American Meteorological Society
Published: May 21, 2018
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