Impact of Gravity Waves on Marine Stratocumulus Variability

Qingfang Jiang Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California

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Shouping Wang Naval Research Laboratory, Monterey, California

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Abstract

The impact of gravity waves on marine stratocumulus is investigated using a large-eddy simulation model initialized with sounding profiles composited from the Variability of American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS) Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-Rex) aircraft measurements and forced by convergence or divergence that mimics mesoscale diurnal, semidiurnal, and quarter-diurnal waves. These simulations suggest that wave-induced vertical motion can dramatically modify the cloud albedo and morphology through nonlinear cloud–aerosol–precipitation–circulation–turbulence feedback.

In general, wave-induced ascent tends to increase the liquid water path (LWP) and the cloud albedo. With a proper aerosol number concentration, the increase in the LWP leads to enhanced precipitation, which triggers or strengthens mesoscale circulations in the boundary layer and accelerates cloud cellularization. Precipitation also tends to create a decoupling structure by weakening the turbulence in the subcloud layer. Wave-induced descent decreases the cloud albedo by dissipating clouds and forcing a transition from overcast to scattered clouds or from closed to open cells. The overall effect of gravity waves on the cloud variability and morphology depends on the cloud property, aerosol concentration, and wave characteristics. In several simulations, a transition from closed to open cells occurs under the influence of gravity waves, implying that some of the pockets of clouds (POCs) observed over open oceans may be related to gravity wave activities.

Corresponding author address: Qingfang Jiang, Naval Research Laboratory, 7 Grace Hopper Ave., Monterey, CA 93943. E-mail: jiang@nrlmry.navy.mil

Abstract

The impact of gravity waves on marine stratocumulus is investigated using a large-eddy simulation model initialized with sounding profiles composited from the Variability of American Monsoon Systems (VAMOS) Ocean–Cloud–Atmosphere–Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-Rex) aircraft measurements and forced by convergence or divergence that mimics mesoscale diurnal, semidiurnal, and quarter-diurnal waves. These simulations suggest that wave-induced vertical motion can dramatically modify the cloud albedo and morphology through nonlinear cloud–aerosol–precipitation–circulation–turbulence feedback.

In general, wave-induced ascent tends to increase the liquid water path (LWP) and the cloud albedo. With a proper aerosol number concentration, the increase in the LWP leads to enhanced precipitation, which triggers or strengthens mesoscale circulations in the boundary layer and accelerates cloud cellularization. Precipitation also tends to create a decoupling structure by weakening the turbulence in the subcloud layer. Wave-induced descent decreases the cloud albedo by dissipating clouds and forcing a transition from overcast to scattered clouds or from closed to open cells. The overall effect of gravity waves on the cloud variability and morphology depends on the cloud property, aerosol concentration, and wave characteristics. In several simulations, a transition from closed to open cells occurs under the influence of gravity waves, implying that some of the pockets of clouds (POCs) observed over open oceans may be related to gravity wave activities.

Corresponding author address: Qingfang Jiang, Naval Research Laboratory, 7 Grace Hopper Ave., Monterey, CA 93943. E-mail: jiang@nrlmry.navy.mil
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