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Community Connections: Community Use of Common Community Physics Package Single-column Model

Winter 2024

The Common Community Physics Package (CCPP) single-column model (SCM) is developed and supported by the Developmental Testbed Center (DTC). In addition to periodic public releases, the CCPP SCM and its applications were introduced to the community in 2020 through an AMS Short Course “Experimentation and Development of Physical Parameterizations for Numerical Weather Prediction Using a Single-Column Model and the Common Community Physics Package” and a series of workshops and conferences. The DTC has been using the CCPP SCM to facilitate the Unified Forecast System (UFS) physics developments, testing and evaluations, which have been highlighted in previous DTC newsletters. Beyond the numerous applications of the CCPP SCM at the DTC, applications span from physics development, process-level understanding, to participating in model inter-comparison projects (MIPs; Table 1).

For years, the UFS community has vigorously used the CCPP SCM for physics development. In the development of the Grell–Freitas convection scheme, the CCPP SCM simulations demonstrated the value of using beta functions to characterize the features associated with three convection modes. For the scale-aware Turbulent Kinetic Energy eddy-diffusivity mass-flux (TKE-EDMF) scheme, the CCPP SCM helped identify the impact of mixing-length formulations and constraints on parameterizing boundary-layer turbulence (Fig. 1). In addition to conventional column physics, the CCPP SCM was also applied to facilitate process-level investigations on such as the Noah-MP Land Surface Model, the direct radiative effects of aerosols, land-atmosphere interactions, and microphysics in the Arctic systems. The CCPP SCM was also adopted to conduct idealized simulations to examine the impacts of deep convective downdrafts and re-evaporation of convective rain on the tropical mean state and variability.

Besides the UFS, the broad community has started exploring the merits of this tool. Recently, the CCPP SCM has been used as a teaching tool by Professor Cristiana Stan of George Mason University, where graduate students can dive into the complexity of an Earth system model. To support Navy model development, it helped test the implementation of aerosol-radiation interaction for the marine atmospheric boundary layer. The NSF NCAR, through a Department of Energy project, used the CCPP SCM and observations to gain advanced boundary layer understanding and parameterizations that are currently used by multiple host models, including the UFS and the NSF NCAR models. The State University of New York at Albany used it to study shallow convective systems in trades and the direct radiative impact of Saharan dust aerosols on African easterly waves. The tool was also adopted in a few MIPs, including evaluating radiation fog in the Local and Non-local Fog Experiment (LANFEX) field campaign and the Cold-Air Outbreaks in the Marine Boundary Layer Experiment (COMBLE) MIP. This effort will help improve the physical representations of various aspects of mixed-phase cloud systems. 

As the capabilities of the CCPP SCM flourish, it is foreseeable that the tool will facilitate more robust physics developments and scientific investigations, which would ultimately benefit the Earth system modeling community. At the same time, it is worth keeping in mind that users need to fully understand the processes to be examined when using a SCM, given its semi-idealized nature.

Table 1 List of researchers, institutes, and areas with publications/presentations for using the CCPP SCM beyond the DTC.




Saulo Freitas, Georg Grell, and Haiqin Li


Cumulus physics development for RAP, HRRR and RRFS; Freita et al. (2021)

Edward Strobach


PBL physics development in GFS; Strobach (2022)

Weizhong Zheng, Michael Barlage, and Helin Wei 


Noah-MP Land Surface Model development for the UFS; Zheng et al. (2021)

Anning Cheng and Fanglin Yang


Radiative effects of aerosols in the UFS; Cheng and Yang (2022)

Siwei He

Montana State University 

Land-atmosphere interactions in the UFS; He et al. (2022) 

Amy Solomon 


Microphysics associated with forecast of Arctic systems for the UFS  (personal correspondence)

Sasa Gabersek


Aerosol-radiation interaction; Gabersek et al. (2024)

I-Kuan Hu


Testing and evaluation of cumulus physics (personal correspondence); Hu et al. (2024)

Lulin Xue and Weiwei Li


PBL physics in the UFS and the NCAR models; Xue et al. (2023)

Xia Sun


Evaluating CAPE bias in the UFS; Sun et al. (2023) 

Christian Wilder Barreto-Schuler

Univ. at Albany - SUNY

Direct radiative impact of Saharan dust aerosols on African easterly waves; Barreto-Schuler et al. (2024)

Jian-wen Bao and Evelyn Grell


LANFEX MIP; Boutle et al. (2022)

Weiwei Li and Lulin Xue


COMBLE MIP; Juliano et al. (2022)

Contributed by Weiwei Li