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Responses of Shallow Cumulus Convection to Large-Scale Temperature and Moisture Perturbations: A Comparison of Large-Eddy Simulations and a Convective Parameterization Based on Stochastically Entraining Parcels

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • | 2 Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Abstract

Responses of shallow cumuli to large-scale temperature/moisture perturbations are examined through diagnostics of large-eddy simulations (LESs) of the undisturbed Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX) case and a stochastic parcel model. The perturbations are added instantaneously and allowed to evolve freely afterward. The parcel model reproduces most of the changes in the LES-simulated cloudy updraft statistics in response to the perturbations. Analyses of parcel histories show that a positive temperature perturbation forms a buoyancy barrier, which preferentially eliminates parcels that start with lower equivalent potential temperature or have experienced heavy entrainment. Besides the amount of entrainment, the height at which parcels entrain is also important in determining their fate. Parcels entraining at higher altitudes are more likely to overcome the buoyancy barrier than those entraining at lower altitudes. Stochastic entrainment is key for the parcel model to reproduce the LES results. Responses to environmental moisture perturbations are quite small compared to those to temperature perturbations because changing environmental moisture is ineffective in modifying buoyancy in the BOMEX shallow cumulus case.

The second part of the paper further explores the feasibility of a stochastic parcel–based cumulus parameterization. Air parcels are released from the surface layer and temperature/moisture fluxes effected by the parcels are used to calculate heating/moistening tendencies due to both cumulus convection and boundary layer turbulence. Initial results show that this conceptually simple parameterization produces realistic convective tendencies and also reproduces the LES-simulated mean and variance of cloudy updraft properties, as well as the response of convection to temperature/moisture perturbations.

Corresponding author address: Ji Nie, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail: jinie@fas.harvard.edu

Abstract

Responses of shallow cumuli to large-scale temperature/moisture perturbations are examined through diagnostics of large-eddy simulations (LESs) of the undisturbed Barbados Oceanographic and Meteorological Experiment (BOMEX) case and a stochastic parcel model. The perturbations are added instantaneously and allowed to evolve freely afterward. The parcel model reproduces most of the changes in the LES-simulated cloudy updraft statistics in response to the perturbations. Analyses of parcel histories show that a positive temperature perturbation forms a buoyancy barrier, which preferentially eliminates parcels that start with lower equivalent potential temperature or have experienced heavy entrainment. Besides the amount of entrainment, the height at which parcels entrain is also important in determining their fate. Parcels entraining at higher altitudes are more likely to overcome the buoyancy barrier than those entraining at lower altitudes. Stochastic entrainment is key for the parcel model to reproduce the LES results. Responses to environmental moisture perturbations are quite small compared to those to temperature perturbations because changing environmental moisture is ineffective in modifying buoyancy in the BOMEX shallow cumulus case.

The second part of the paper further explores the feasibility of a stochastic parcel–based cumulus parameterization. Air parcels are released from the surface layer and temperature/moisture fluxes effected by the parcels are used to calculate heating/moistening tendencies due to both cumulus convection and boundary layer turbulence. Initial results show that this conceptually simple parameterization produces realistic convective tendencies and also reproduces the LES-simulated mean and variance of cloudy updraft properties, as well as the response of convection to temperature/moisture perturbations.

Corresponding author address: Ji Nie, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. E-mail: jinie@fas.harvard.edu
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