Cirrus Cloud Properties from a Cloud-Resolving Model Simulation Compared to Cloud Radar Observations

Yali Luo Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Steven K. Krueger Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Gerald G. Mace Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Kuan-Man Xu NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia

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Abstract

Cloud radar data collected at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program's Southern Great Plains site were used to evaluate the properties of cirrus clouds that occurred in a cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation of the 29-day summer 1997 intensive observation period (IOP). The simulation was “forced” by the large-scale advective temperature and water vapor tendencies, horizontal wind velocity, and turbulent surface fluxes observed at the Southern Great Plains site. The large-scale advective condensate tendency was not observed. The correlation of CRM cirrus amount with Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) high cloud amount was 0.70 for the subperiods during which cirrus formation and decay occurred primarily locally, but only 0.30 for the entire IOP. This suggests that neglecting condensate advection has a detrimental impact on the ability of a model (CRM or single-column model) to properly simulate cirrus cloud occurrence.

The occurrence, vertical location, and thickness of cirrus cloud layers, as well as the bulk microphysical properties of thin cirrus cloud layers, were determined from the cloud radar measurements for June, July, and August 1997. The composite characteristics of cirrus clouds derived from this dataset are well suited for evaluating CRMs because of the close correspondence between the timescales and space scales resolved by the cloud radar measurements and by CRMs. The CRM results were sampled at eight grid columns spaced 64 km apart using the same definitions of cirrus and thin cirrus as the cloud radar dataset. The composite characteristics of cirrus clouds obtained from the CRM were then compared to those obtained from the cloud radar.

Compared with the cloud radar observations, the CRM cirrus clouds occur at lower heights and with larger physical thicknesses. The ice water paths in the CRM's thin cirrus clouds are similar to those observed. However, the corresponding cloud-layer-mean ice water contents are significantly less than observed due to the CRM's larger cloud-layer thicknesses. The strong dependence of cirrus microphysical properties on layer-mean temperature and layer thickness as revealed by the observations is reproduced by the CRM. In addition, both the CRM and the observations show that the thin cirrus ice water path during large-scale ascent is only slightly greater than during no ascent or descent.

Corresponding author address: Yali Luo, Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, 135 South 1460 East, Room 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110. Email: yali@met.utah.edu

Abstract

Cloud radar data collected at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program's Southern Great Plains site were used to evaluate the properties of cirrus clouds that occurred in a cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation of the 29-day summer 1997 intensive observation period (IOP). The simulation was “forced” by the large-scale advective temperature and water vapor tendencies, horizontal wind velocity, and turbulent surface fluxes observed at the Southern Great Plains site. The large-scale advective condensate tendency was not observed. The correlation of CRM cirrus amount with Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) high cloud amount was 0.70 for the subperiods during which cirrus formation and decay occurred primarily locally, but only 0.30 for the entire IOP. This suggests that neglecting condensate advection has a detrimental impact on the ability of a model (CRM or single-column model) to properly simulate cirrus cloud occurrence.

The occurrence, vertical location, and thickness of cirrus cloud layers, as well as the bulk microphysical properties of thin cirrus cloud layers, were determined from the cloud radar measurements for June, July, and August 1997. The composite characteristics of cirrus clouds derived from this dataset are well suited for evaluating CRMs because of the close correspondence between the timescales and space scales resolved by the cloud radar measurements and by CRMs. The CRM results were sampled at eight grid columns spaced 64 km apart using the same definitions of cirrus and thin cirrus as the cloud radar dataset. The composite characteristics of cirrus clouds obtained from the CRM were then compared to those obtained from the cloud radar.

Compared with the cloud radar observations, the CRM cirrus clouds occur at lower heights and with larger physical thicknesses. The ice water paths in the CRM's thin cirrus clouds are similar to those observed. However, the corresponding cloud-layer-mean ice water contents are significantly less than observed due to the CRM's larger cloud-layer thicknesses. The strong dependence of cirrus microphysical properties on layer-mean temperature and layer thickness as revealed by the observations is reproduced by the CRM. In addition, both the CRM and the observations show that the thin cirrus ice water path during large-scale ascent is only slightly greater than during no ascent or descent.

Corresponding author address: Yali Luo, Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, 135 South 1460 East, Room 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110. Email: yali@met.utah.edu

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