The accurate modeling of cascades to unresolved scales is an important part of the tracer transport component of dynamical cores of weather and climate models. This paper aims to investigate the ability of the advection schemes in the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Atmosphere Model version 5 (CAM5) to model this cascade. In order to quantify the effects of the different advection schemes in CAM5, four two-dimensional tracer transport test cases are presented. Three of the tests stretch the tracer below the scale of coarse resolution grids to ensure the downscale cascade of tracer variance. These results are compared with a high resolution reference solution, which is simulated on a resolution fine enough to resolve the tracer during the test. The fourth test has two separate flow cells, and is designed so that any tracer in the western hemisphere should not pass into the eastern hemisphere. This is to test whether the diffusion in transport schemes, often in the form of explicit hyper-diffusion terms or implicit through monotonic limiters, contains unphysical mixing.
An intercomparison of three of the dynamical cores of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Community Atmosphere Model version 5 is performed. The results show that the finite-volume (CAM-FV) and spectral element (CAM-SE) dynamical cores model the downscale cascade of tracer variance better than the semi-Lagrangian transport scheme of the Eulerian spectral transform core (CAM-EUL). Each scheme tested produces unphysical mass in the eastern hemisphere of the separate cells test.