Simulation of a Stratocumulus-Topped Planetary Boundary Layer: Intercomparison among Different Numerical Codes

C.-H. Moeng
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W. R. Cotton
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C. Bretherton
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A. Chlond
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M. Khairoutdinov
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S. Krueger
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W. S. Lewellen
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M. K. MacVean
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J. R. M. Pasquier
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H. A. Rand
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A. P. Siebesma
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B. Stevens
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R. I. Sykes
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This paper reports an intercomparison study of a stratocumulus-topped planetary boundary layer (PBL) generated from ten 3D large eddy simulation (LES) codes and four 2D cloud-resolving models (CRMs). These models vary in the numerics, the parameterizations of the subgrid-scale (SGS) turbulence and condensation processes, and the calculation of longwave radiative cooling. Cloud-top radiative cooling is often the major source of buoyant production of turbulent kinetic energy in the stratocumulus-topped PBL. An idealized nocturnal stratocumulus case was selected for this study. It featured a statistically horizontally homogeneous and nearly solid cloud deck with no drizzle, no solar radiation, little wind shear, and little surface heating.

Results of the two-hour simulations showed that the overall cloud structure, including cloud-top height, cloud fraction, and the vertical distributions of many turbulence statistics, compared well among all LESs despite the code variations. However, the entrainment rate was found to differ significantly among the simulations. Among the model uncertainties due to numerics, SGS turbulence, SGS condensation, and radiation, none could be identified to explain such differences. Therefore, a follow-up study will focus on simulating the entrainment process. The liquid water mixing ratio profiles also varied significantly among the simulations; these profiles are sensitive to the algorithm used for computing the saturation mixing ratio.

Despite the obvious differences in eddy structure in two- and three-dimensional simulations, the cloud structure predicted by the 2D CRMs was similar to that obtained by the 3D LESs, even though the momentum fluxes, the vertical and horizontal velocity variances, and the turbulence kinetic energy profiles predicted by the 2D CRMs all differ significantly from those of the LESs.

*National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

+Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

#University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

@Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Germany.

&University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

**University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

++West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.

##U.K. Meteorological Office, United Kingdom.

@@Institute of Science and Technology, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.

&&KNMI, the Netherlands.

***Titan Research and Technology, New Jersey.

Corresponding author address: Dr. C.-H. Moeng, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. E-mail: moeng@ncar.ucar.edu

This paper reports an intercomparison study of a stratocumulus-topped planetary boundary layer (PBL) generated from ten 3D large eddy simulation (LES) codes and four 2D cloud-resolving models (CRMs). These models vary in the numerics, the parameterizations of the subgrid-scale (SGS) turbulence and condensation processes, and the calculation of longwave radiative cooling. Cloud-top radiative cooling is often the major source of buoyant production of turbulent kinetic energy in the stratocumulus-topped PBL. An idealized nocturnal stratocumulus case was selected for this study. It featured a statistically horizontally homogeneous and nearly solid cloud deck with no drizzle, no solar radiation, little wind shear, and little surface heating.

Results of the two-hour simulations showed that the overall cloud structure, including cloud-top height, cloud fraction, and the vertical distributions of many turbulence statistics, compared well among all LESs despite the code variations. However, the entrainment rate was found to differ significantly among the simulations. Among the model uncertainties due to numerics, SGS turbulence, SGS condensation, and radiation, none could be identified to explain such differences. Therefore, a follow-up study will focus on simulating the entrainment process. The liquid water mixing ratio profiles also varied significantly among the simulations; these profiles are sensitive to the algorithm used for computing the saturation mixing ratio.

Despite the obvious differences in eddy structure in two- and three-dimensional simulations, the cloud structure predicted by the 2D CRMs was similar to that obtained by the 3D LESs, even though the momentum fluxes, the vertical and horizontal velocity variances, and the turbulence kinetic energy profiles predicted by the 2D CRMs all differ significantly from those of the LESs.

*National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado.

+Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

#University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.

@Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Germany.

&University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

**University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

++West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.

##U.K. Meteorological Office, United Kingdom.

@@Institute of Science and Technology, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.

&&KNMI, the Netherlands.

***Titan Research and Technology, New Jersey.

Corresponding author address: Dr. C.-H. Moeng, Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307-3000. E-mail: moeng@ncar.ucar.edu
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