Distributions of Raindrop Sizes and Fall Velocities in a Semiarid Plateau Climate: Convective versus Stratiform Rains

Shengjie Niu Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster (KLME), Ministry of Education, School of Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China

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Xingcan Jia Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster (KLME), Ministry of Education, School of Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China

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Jianren Sang Ningxia Institute of Meteorological Science, Yinchuan, China

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Xiaoli Liu Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster (KLME), Ministry of Education, School of Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China

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Chunsong Lu Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster (KLME), Ministry of Education, School of Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China

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Yangang Liu Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York

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Abstract

Joint size and fall velocity distributions of raindrops were measured with a Particle Size and Velocity (PARSIVEL) precipitation particle disdrometer in a field experiment conducted during July and August 2007 at a semiarid continental site located in Guyuan, Ningxia Province, China (36°N, 106°16′E). Data from both stratiform and convective clouds are analyzed. Comparison of the observed raindrop size distributions shows that the increase of convective rain rates arises from the increases of both drop concentration and drop diameter while the increase of the rain rate in the stratiform clouds is mainly due to the increase of median and large drop concentration. Another striking contrast between the stratiform and convective rains is that the size distributions from the stratiform (convective) rains tend to narrow (broaden) with increasing rain rates. Statistical analysis of the distribution pattern shows that the observed size distributions from both rain types can be well described by the gamma distribution. Examination of the raindrop fall velocity reveals that the difference in air density leads to a systematic change in the drop fall velocity while organized air motions (updrafts and downdrafts), turbulence, drop breakup, and coalescence likely cause the large spread of drop fall velocity, along with additional systematic deviation from terminal velocity at certain raindrop diameters. Small (large) drops tend to have superterminal (subterminal) velocities statistically, with the positive deviation from the terminal velocity of small drops being much larger than the negative deviation of large drops.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Shengjie Niu, Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster (KLME), Ministry of Education, School of Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST), Nanjing, China. Email: niusj@nuist.edu.cn

Abstract

Joint size and fall velocity distributions of raindrops were measured with a Particle Size and Velocity (PARSIVEL) precipitation particle disdrometer in a field experiment conducted during July and August 2007 at a semiarid continental site located in Guyuan, Ningxia Province, China (36°N, 106°16′E). Data from both stratiform and convective clouds are analyzed. Comparison of the observed raindrop size distributions shows that the increase of convective rain rates arises from the increases of both drop concentration and drop diameter while the increase of the rain rate in the stratiform clouds is mainly due to the increase of median and large drop concentration. Another striking contrast between the stratiform and convective rains is that the size distributions from the stratiform (convective) rains tend to narrow (broaden) with increasing rain rates. Statistical analysis of the distribution pattern shows that the observed size distributions from both rain types can be well described by the gamma distribution. Examination of the raindrop fall velocity reveals that the difference in air density leads to a systematic change in the drop fall velocity while organized air motions (updrafts and downdrafts), turbulence, drop breakup, and coalescence likely cause the large spread of drop fall velocity, along with additional systematic deviation from terminal velocity at certain raindrop diameters. Small (large) drops tend to have superterminal (subterminal) velocities statistically, with the positive deviation from the terminal velocity of small drops being much larger than the negative deviation of large drops.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Shengjie Niu, Key Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster (KLME), Ministry of Education, School of Atmospheric Physics, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST), Nanjing, China. Email: niusj@nuist.edu.cn

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