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A Comparison of Roll and Nonroll Convection and the Subsequent Deepening Moist Convection: An LEM Case Study Based on SCMS Data

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  • 1 College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
  • | 2 Institute for Atmospheric Science, The School of the Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • | 3 College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China
  • | 4 Earth Observing Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Rolls observed during the Small Cumulus Microphysical Study (SCMS) field campaign are simulated using a large eddy model (LEM). The simulated boundary layer properties were in a good agreement with sounding profiles and aircraft observations, and the observed boundary layer rolls were reproduced by the model. Rolls started to decay when −Zi/L exceeded a threshold, with a value between 5 and 45. Here Zi and L refer to the height of the top of convective boundary layer and the Monin–Obukhov length, respectively. This value was found to depend on a nondimensional combination of the low-level wind shear, the height of the CBL, and the eddy velocity scale. Larger surface buoyancy fluxes and smaller shears gave higher thresholds. For the case modeled, rolls persisted for surface buoyancy fluxes less than 110 W m−2, and formed for boundary layer wind shears greater than 5 × 10−3 s−1, which is consistent with previous studies.

The simulated roll convection was compared with a nonroll simulation, which was identical except for the wind and the wind shear used. In both the roll and nonroll cases the variability in convective inhibition (CIN) was dominated by the variability in the source air, rather than the lifting of the top of the boundary layer by the convection. Stronger moist updrafts existed in the nonroll convection, whereas roll convection gave a more symmetrical distribution of up and downdrafts, with stronger downdrafts than the nonroll case. The nonroll convection simulations have lower minimum values of CIN and clouds develop 15 min earlier in this case.

Corresponding author address: Qian Huang, College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China. Email: qianhuang@lzu.edu.cn

Abstract

Rolls observed during the Small Cumulus Microphysical Study (SCMS) field campaign are simulated using a large eddy model (LEM). The simulated boundary layer properties were in a good agreement with sounding profiles and aircraft observations, and the observed boundary layer rolls were reproduced by the model. Rolls started to decay when −Zi/L exceeded a threshold, with a value between 5 and 45. Here Zi and L refer to the height of the top of convective boundary layer and the Monin–Obukhov length, respectively. This value was found to depend on a nondimensional combination of the low-level wind shear, the height of the CBL, and the eddy velocity scale. Larger surface buoyancy fluxes and smaller shears gave higher thresholds. For the case modeled, rolls persisted for surface buoyancy fluxes less than 110 W m−2, and formed for boundary layer wind shears greater than 5 × 10−3 s−1, which is consistent with previous studies.

The simulated roll convection was compared with a nonroll simulation, which was identical except for the wind and the wind shear used. In both the roll and nonroll cases the variability in convective inhibition (CIN) was dominated by the variability in the source air, rather than the lifting of the top of the boundary layer by the convection. Stronger moist updrafts existed in the nonroll convection, whereas roll convection gave a more symmetrical distribution of up and downdrafts, with stronger downdrafts than the nonroll case. The nonroll convection simulations have lower minimum values of CIN and clouds develop 15 min earlier in this case.

Corresponding author address: Qian Huang, College of Atmospheric Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China. Email: qianhuang@lzu.edu.cn

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