Dynamical Effects of Aerosol Perturbations on Simulated Idealized Squall Lines

Zachary J. Lebo Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Hugh Morrison Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

The dynamical effects of increased aerosol loading on the strength and structure of numerically simulated squall lines are explored. Results are explained in the context of Rotunno–Klemp–Weisman (RKW) theory. Changes in aerosol loading lead to changes in raindrop size and number that ultimately affect the strength of the cold pool via changes in evaporation. Thus, the balance between cold pool and low-level wind shear–induced vorticities can be changed by an aerosol perturbation. Simulations covering a wide range of low-level wind shears are performed to study the sensitivity to aerosols in different environments and provide more general conclusions. Simulations with relatively weak low-level environmental wind shear (0.0024 s−1) have a relatively strong cold pool circulation compared to the environmental shear. An increase in aerosol loading leads to a weakening of the cold pool and, hence, a more optimal balance between the cold pool– and environmental shear–induced circulations according to RKW theory. Consequently, there is an increase in the convective mass flux of nearly 20% in polluted conditions relative to pristine. This strengthening coincides with more upright convective updrafts and a significant increase (nearly 20%) in cumulative precipitation. An increase in aerosol loading in a strong wind shear environment (0.0064 s−1) leads to less optimal storms and a suppression of the convective mass flux and precipitation. This occurs because the cold pool circulation is weak relative to the environmental shear when the shear is strong, and further weakening of the cold pool with high aerosol loading leads to an even less optimal storm structure (i.e., convective updrafts begin to tilt downshear).

Current affiliation: Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Zachary J. Lebo, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. E-mail: lebo@ucar.edu

Abstract

The dynamical effects of increased aerosol loading on the strength and structure of numerically simulated squall lines are explored. Results are explained in the context of Rotunno–Klemp–Weisman (RKW) theory. Changes in aerosol loading lead to changes in raindrop size and number that ultimately affect the strength of the cold pool via changes in evaporation. Thus, the balance between cold pool and low-level wind shear–induced vorticities can be changed by an aerosol perturbation. Simulations covering a wide range of low-level wind shears are performed to study the sensitivity to aerosols in different environments and provide more general conclusions. Simulations with relatively weak low-level environmental wind shear (0.0024 s−1) have a relatively strong cold pool circulation compared to the environmental shear. An increase in aerosol loading leads to a weakening of the cold pool and, hence, a more optimal balance between the cold pool– and environmental shear–induced circulations according to RKW theory. Consequently, there is an increase in the convective mass flux of nearly 20% in polluted conditions relative to pristine. This strengthening coincides with more upright convective updrafts and a significant increase (nearly 20%) in cumulative precipitation. An increase in aerosol loading in a strong wind shear environment (0.0064 s−1) leads to less optimal storms and a suppression of the convective mass flux and precipitation. This occurs because the cold pool circulation is weak relative to the environmental shear when the shear is strong, and further weakening of the cold pool with high aerosol loading leads to an even less optimal storm structure (i.e., convective updrafts begin to tilt downshear).

Current affiliation: Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Zachary J. Lebo, National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. E-mail: lebo@ucar.edu
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