Multiscale interactions in an idealized walker cell: Simulations with sparse space-time superparameterization

Joanna Slawinska, Olivier Pauluis, Andrew J. Majda, Wojciech W. Grabowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the sparse space-time superparameterization (SSTSP) algorithm and evaluates its ability to represent interactions between moist convection and the large-scale circulation in the context of aWalker cell flow over a planetary scale two-dimensional domain. The SSTSP represents convective motions in each column of the large-scale model by embedding a cloud-resolving model, and relies on a sparse sampling in both space and time to reduce computational cost of explicit simulation of convective processes. Simulations are performed varying the spatial compression and/or temporal acceleration, and results are compared to the cloud-resolving simulation reported previously. The algorithm is able to reproduce a broad range of circulation features for all temporal accelerations and spatial compressions, but significant biases are identified. Precipitation tends to be too intense and too localized over warm waters when compared to the cloud-resolving simulations. It is argued that this is because coherent propagation of organized convective systems from one large-scale model column to another is difficult when superparameterization is used, as noted in previous studies. The Walker cell in all simulations exhibits low-frequency variability on a time scale of about 20 days, characterized by four distinctive stages: suppressed, intensification, active, and weakening. The SSTSP algorithm captures spatial structure and temporal evolution of the variability. This reinforces the confidence that SSTSP preserves fundamental interactions between convection and the large-scale flow, and offers a computationally efficient alternative to traditional convective parameterizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-580
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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