## Abstract

In many large-scale models mass-flux parameterizations are applied to prognose the effect of cumulus cloud convection on the large-scale environment. Key parameters in the mass-flux equations are the lateral entrainment and detrainment rates. The physical meaning of these parameters is that they quantify the mixing rate of mass across the thermal boundaries between the cloud and its environment.

The prognostic equations for the updraft and downdraft value of a conserved variable are used to derive a prognostic variance equation in the mass-flux approach. The analogy between this equation and the Reynolds-averaged variance equation is discussed. It is demonstrated that the prognostic variance equation formulated in mass-flux variables contains a gradient-production, transport, and dissipative term. In the latter term, the sum of the lateral entrainment and detrainment rates represents an inverse timescale of the dissipation.

Steady-state solutions of the variance equations are discussed. Expressions for the fractional entrainment and detrainment coefficients are derived. Also, solutions for the vertical flux of an arbitrary conserved variable are presented. For convection in which the updraft fraction equals the downdraft fraction, the vertical flux of the scalar flows down the local mean gradient. The turbulent mixing coefficient is given by the ratio of the vertical mass flux and the sum of the fractional entrainment and detrainment coefficients. For an arbitrary updraft fraction, however, flux correction terms are part of the solution. It is shown that for a convective boundary layer these correction terms can account for countergradient transport, which is illustrated from large eddy simulation results. In the cumulus convection limit the vertical flux flows down the “cloud” gradient. It is concluded that in the mass-flux approach the turbulent mixing coefficients, and the correction terms that arise from the transport term, are very similar to closures applied to the Reynolds-averaged equations.

*Corresponding author address:* Stephan de Roode, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Box 351640, Seattle, WA 98195-1640.

Email: roode@atmos.washington.edu