Volume 84 (2006) Issue 2 Pages 333-363
A new version of the Meteorological Research Institute (MRI) coupled general circulation model MRI-CGCM2 (MRI2.3) is developed and compared with the previous version (MRI2.0). The cloud scheme includes diagnostic function for cloud amount separately specified for convective and layer clouds, which is one of the major modifications contributing to the improved model performance. MRI2.3 exhibits better agreement with the observations in many aspects of present-day climate simulations, including the global energy budget, meridional distributions of shortwave and longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere, and geographical distributions of surface air temperature and precipitation. The effective climate sensitivity of each version is evaluated based on an experiment with a transient (1%/year) increase of carbon dioxide concentration. The effective climate sensitivity of MRI2.3 (2.9 K) is about twice that of MRI2.0 (1.4 K). The change in the cloud-forcing response, particularly for shortwave cloud forcing, is essential for increasing climate sensitivity. A difference in tropical low-level clouds over the subsidence regions contributes significantly to the difference in cloud-forcing changes in response to a climate change. Analyses based on circulation regimes, defined by the vertical velocity at the mid-troposphere, suggest that the cloud-forcing response in the tropics is controlled more by thermodynamic characteristics, such as changes of the stability in the lower troposphere, rather than by large-scale circulation changes, such as a change in the subsidence strength.