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Modeling the Impact of Convective Entrainment on the Tropical Tropopause

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  • 1 Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
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Abstract

Simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) cloud-resolving model of deep moist convective events reveal net cooling near the tropopause (∼15–18 km above ground), caused by a combination of large-scale ascent and small-scale cooling by the irreversible mixing of turbulent eddies overshooting their level of neutral buoyancy. The turbulent cooling occurred at all CAPE values investigated (local peak values ranging from 1900 to 3500 J kg−1) and was robust to grid resolution, subgrid-scale turbulence parameterization, horizontal domain size, model dimension, and treatment of ice microphysics. The ratio of the maximum downward heat flux in the tropopause to the maximum tropospheric upward heat flux was close to 0.1. This value was independent of CAPE but was affected by changes in microphysics or subgrid-scale turbulence parameterization.

The convective cooling peaked roughly 1 km above the cold point in the background input sounding and the mean cloud- and (turbulent kinetic energy) TKE-top heights, which were all near 16.5 km above ground. It was associated with turbulent entrainment of stratospheric air from as high as 18.25 km into the troposphere. Typical cooling in the experiments was of order 1 K during convective events that produced order 10 mm of precipitation, which implied a significant contribution to the tropopause energy budget. Given the sharp concentration gradients and long residence times near the cold point, even such a small entrainment rate is likely consequential for the transport and ambient distribution of trace gases such as water vapor and ozone, and probably helps to explain the gradual increase of ozone typically observed below the tropical tropopause.

Corresponding author address: F. J. Robinson, Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Kline Geology Laboratory, P.O. Box 208109, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8109. Email: francis.robinson@yale.edu

Abstract

Simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) cloud-resolving model of deep moist convective events reveal net cooling near the tropopause (∼15–18 km above ground), caused by a combination of large-scale ascent and small-scale cooling by the irreversible mixing of turbulent eddies overshooting their level of neutral buoyancy. The turbulent cooling occurred at all CAPE values investigated (local peak values ranging from 1900 to 3500 J kg−1) and was robust to grid resolution, subgrid-scale turbulence parameterization, horizontal domain size, model dimension, and treatment of ice microphysics. The ratio of the maximum downward heat flux in the tropopause to the maximum tropospheric upward heat flux was close to 0.1. This value was independent of CAPE but was affected by changes in microphysics or subgrid-scale turbulence parameterization.

The convective cooling peaked roughly 1 km above the cold point in the background input sounding and the mean cloud- and (turbulent kinetic energy) TKE-top heights, which were all near 16.5 km above ground. It was associated with turbulent entrainment of stratospheric air from as high as 18.25 km into the troposphere. Typical cooling in the experiments was of order 1 K during convective events that produced order 10 mm of precipitation, which implied a significant contribution to the tropopause energy budget. Given the sharp concentration gradients and long residence times near the cold point, even such a small entrainment rate is likely consequential for the transport and ambient distribution of trace gases such as water vapor and ozone, and probably helps to explain the gradual increase of ozone typically observed below the tropical tropopause.

Corresponding author address: F. J. Robinson, Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Kline Geology Laboratory, P.O. Box 208109, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8109. Email: francis.robinson@yale.edu

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