Sensitivity of precipitation diurnal cycle to the horizontal grid spacing was investigated using a mesoscale model without cumulus parameterization. Four numerical experiments with changing horizontal resolution are performed over one month with NCEP reanalysis boundary forcing. The studied range of grid spacing is from 3.5 km to 28 km which has been known as the intermediate scale to simulate mesoscale systems with/without cumulus parameterization. The target area is the Tibetan Plateau where pronounced diurnal cycle of convective systems is observed during the spring season.
Lower resolution runs (14 and 28 km grid) show delayed formation and delayed mature stage of the cumulus convection in comparison to satellite observations. On the other hand, higher resolution runs (3.5 and 7 km grid) reproduce the proper development of the clouds after local noon which is consistent with observations. The total hydrometeor content and rainfall rate increase with grid size. Such systematic relationship of resolution dependencies are confirmed even in the monthly mean diurnal cycle, although most of previous studies examined only short periods. These results suggest that finer resolution at less than 7 kilometer is necessary to simulate realistic phase of the precipitation diurnal cycle over the Tibetan Plateau.
The mechanism that is responsible for the resolution dependency is discussed. We suggest that the daytime convection which initially occurs due to unstable stratification over the Tibetan Plateau in spring tends to have a horizontal scale smaller than that is resolvable by the coarse resolution runs. The delayed cloud formation induces larger downward shortwave radiation, which increases surface fluxes and results in too strong rainfall in the coarser resolution runs.
2008 by Meteorological Society of Japan