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Impact of Horizontal Resolution on the Numerical Simulation of a Midlatitude Squall Line: Implicit versus Explicit Condensation

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  • 1 Meteorological Research Branch, Meteorological Service of Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada
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Abstract

The relative roles of implicit and explicit condensation schemes in the numerical representation of a squall line that occurred on 7–8 May 1995 over the southern Great Plains are examined in this study using Mesoscale Compressible Community model integrations at 2-, 6-, 18-, and 50-km resolution. Results from the 2-km model in which condensation is explicitly represented agree best with observations and are used as “synthetic” data to evaluate the performance of lower-resolution configurations.

It is found that the representation of the squall system greatly deteriorates as resolution is decreased and that the relative roles of the implicit and explicit condensation schemes change dramatically. At 6-km resolution, the leading convective band is barely resolved by the model, and the implicit–explicit partition of precipitation is ambiguous because both implicit and explicit schemes are active simultaneously at the leading edge of the system. In spite of this ambiguity, it is found that use of a deep convection scheme is still beneficial to the squall-line simulation. At 18 km, the convective line is not resolved by the model, and its effect is completely due to the implicit scheme. The mesoscale circulations in the trailing anvil region of the squall system are generated at the small end of the model resolvable scales and are exaggeratedly intense. There is no ambiguity concerning the partition of condensation into implicit and explicit components at this resolution, but the relative intensity of precipitation produced by the two cloud schemes is opposite to what is observed, considering that the implicit scheme is supposed to represent subgrid-scale convection at the leading edge of the system, and the explicit scheme the grid-scale condensation in the trailing anvil. At 50 km, both the leading convection and the mesoscale circulations in the trailing anvil have to be parameterized because they are not resolved at the model grid scale. The precipitation and internal structures associated with the squall line are thus not well represented at this resolution.

The results also show that all the configurations produce precipitation accumulations that are much larger than observations. This problem is most important at 18-km resolution. Grid-scale condensation is mostly responsible for this rainfall overestimation. It is suggested that this problem is linked to a misrepresentation of convective-scale processes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Stéphane Bélair, Recherche en Prévision Numérique, 2121 Trans-Canada Highway, Room 500, Dorval, PQ H9P 1J3, Canada. Email: stephane.belair@ec.ge.ca

Abstract

The relative roles of implicit and explicit condensation schemes in the numerical representation of a squall line that occurred on 7–8 May 1995 over the southern Great Plains are examined in this study using Mesoscale Compressible Community model integrations at 2-, 6-, 18-, and 50-km resolution. Results from the 2-km model in which condensation is explicitly represented agree best with observations and are used as “synthetic” data to evaluate the performance of lower-resolution configurations.

It is found that the representation of the squall system greatly deteriorates as resolution is decreased and that the relative roles of the implicit and explicit condensation schemes change dramatically. At 6-km resolution, the leading convective band is barely resolved by the model, and the implicit–explicit partition of precipitation is ambiguous because both implicit and explicit schemes are active simultaneously at the leading edge of the system. In spite of this ambiguity, it is found that use of a deep convection scheme is still beneficial to the squall-line simulation. At 18 km, the convective line is not resolved by the model, and its effect is completely due to the implicit scheme. The mesoscale circulations in the trailing anvil region of the squall system are generated at the small end of the model resolvable scales and are exaggeratedly intense. There is no ambiguity concerning the partition of condensation into implicit and explicit components at this resolution, but the relative intensity of precipitation produced by the two cloud schemes is opposite to what is observed, considering that the implicit scheme is supposed to represent subgrid-scale convection at the leading edge of the system, and the explicit scheme the grid-scale condensation in the trailing anvil. At 50 km, both the leading convection and the mesoscale circulations in the trailing anvil have to be parameterized because they are not resolved at the model grid scale. The precipitation and internal structures associated with the squall line are thus not well represented at this resolution.

The results also show that all the configurations produce precipitation accumulations that are much larger than observations. This problem is most important at 18-km resolution. Grid-scale condensation is mostly responsible for this rainfall overestimation. It is suggested that this problem is linked to a misrepresentation of convective-scale processes.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Stéphane Bélair, Recherche en Prévision Numérique, 2121 Trans-Canada Highway, Room 500, Dorval, PQ H9P 1J3, Canada. Email: stephane.belair@ec.ge.ca

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