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Sensitivities in Large-Eddy Simulations of Mixed-Phase Arctic Stratocumulus Clouds Using a Simple Microphysics Approach

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  • 1 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland
  • | 2 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • | 3 Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan
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Abstract

Arctic mixed-phase stratocumulus clouds are maintained by feedbacks between microphysical and dynamical phenomena, but the details of these interactions are incompletely understood. Although large-eddy simulations are a promising means of elucidating microphysics–turbulence relationships, the use of sophisticated microphysical schemes complicates analysis of their results. Here, the ability of a simplified one-moment scheme to capture basic features of this cloud type is investigated through simulations based on Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (MPACE), SHEBA/FIRE-ACE, and Indirect and Semi-Direct Aerosol Campaign (ISDAC) intercomparison studies. The results of the simple scheme show reasonable agreement with liquid and ice water path predictions reported by models using schemes of similar or greater complexity. Additional tests are performed to evaluate the sensitivity of the results to three main parameters of the scheme: the snow and ice size distribution intercept parameters and the exponent appearing in the temperature-dependent phase-partition function, which is used to diagnose cloud condensate amounts. Sensitivities of the SHEBA and ISDAC cases, both of which have low surface heat fluxes and low precipitation rates, tend to be similar, while the MPACE case, with higher surface fluxes and precipitation rates, shows somewhat different trends. Results of all three cases are found to be sensitive to the snow size distribution intercept parameter, but this quantity can be adequately estimated using a recently developed diagnostic expression based on observations of Arctic clouds.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-14-00319.s1.

Corresponding author address: Colleen M. Kaul, Geological Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Soneggstrasse 5, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail: colleen.kaul@erdw.ethz.ch

Abstract

Arctic mixed-phase stratocumulus clouds are maintained by feedbacks between microphysical and dynamical phenomena, but the details of these interactions are incompletely understood. Although large-eddy simulations are a promising means of elucidating microphysics–turbulence relationships, the use of sophisticated microphysical schemes complicates analysis of their results. Here, the ability of a simplified one-moment scheme to capture basic features of this cloud type is investigated through simulations based on Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (MPACE), SHEBA/FIRE-ACE, and Indirect and Semi-Direct Aerosol Campaign (ISDAC) intercomparison studies. The results of the simple scheme show reasonable agreement with liquid and ice water path predictions reported by models using schemes of similar or greater complexity. Additional tests are performed to evaluate the sensitivity of the results to three main parameters of the scheme: the snow and ice size distribution intercept parameters and the exponent appearing in the temperature-dependent phase-partition function, which is used to diagnose cloud condensate amounts. Sensitivities of the SHEBA and ISDAC cases, both of which have low surface heat fluxes and low precipitation rates, tend to be similar, while the MPACE case, with higher surface fluxes and precipitation rates, shows somewhat different trends. Results of all three cases are found to be sensitive to the snow size distribution intercept parameter, but this quantity can be adequately estimated using a recently developed diagnostic expression based on observations of Arctic clouds.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-14-00319.s1.

Corresponding author address: Colleen M. Kaul, Geological Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Soneggstrasse 5, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland. E-mail: colleen.kaul@erdw.ethz.ch

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