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Cellular Statistical Models of Broken Cloud Fields. Part II: Comparison with a Dynamical Model and Statistics of Diverse Ensembles

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  • 1 Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York
  • | 2 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York
  • | 3 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
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Abstract

Cellular statistical models are designed to provide a simple two-parameter characterization of the structure of broken cloud fields described through distributions of cloud fraction and of chord lengths for clouds and clear gaps. In these analytical models cloud fields are assumed to occur on a semiregular grid of cells (which can be vaguely interpreted as atmospheric convective cells). In a simple, discrete cell model, cell size is fixed and each cell can either be completely filled with cloud with some probability or remain empty. Extending the discrete model to a continuous case provides more realism by allowing arbitrary cloud and gap sizes. Here the continuous cellular model is tested by comparing its statistics with those from large-eddy simulations (LES) of marine boundary layer clouds based on case studies from three trade-cumulus field projects. The statistics largely agree with some differences in small sizes approaching the LES model grid spacing. Exponential chord-length distributions follow from the assumption that the probability of any cell being cloudy is constant, appropriate for a given meteorological state (narrow sampling). Relaxing that assumption, and instead allowing this probability to have its own distribution, leads to a power-law distribution of chord lengths, appropriate to a broader sample of meteorological states (diverse sampling).

Corresponding author address: Mikhail Alexandrov, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. Email: malexandrov@giss.nasa.gov

Abstract

Cellular statistical models are designed to provide a simple two-parameter characterization of the structure of broken cloud fields described through distributions of cloud fraction and of chord lengths for clouds and clear gaps. In these analytical models cloud fields are assumed to occur on a semiregular grid of cells (which can be vaguely interpreted as atmospheric convective cells). In a simple, discrete cell model, cell size is fixed and each cell can either be completely filled with cloud with some probability or remain empty. Extending the discrete model to a continuous case provides more realism by allowing arbitrary cloud and gap sizes. Here the continuous cellular model is tested by comparing its statistics with those from large-eddy simulations (LES) of marine boundary layer clouds based on case studies from three trade-cumulus field projects. The statistics largely agree with some differences in small sizes approaching the LES model grid spacing. Exponential chord-length distributions follow from the assumption that the probability of any cell being cloudy is constant, appropriate for a given meteorological state (narrow sampling). Relaxing that assumption, and instead allowing this probability to have its own distribution, leads to a power-law distribution of chord lengths, appropriate to a broader sample of meteorological states (diverse sampling).

Corresponding author address: Mikhail Alexandrov, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. Email: malexandrov@giss.nasa.gov

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