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Manuel Santos Gutiérrez
and
Kalli Furtado

Abstract

The supersaturation equation for a vertically moving adiabatic cloud parcel is analyzed. The effects of turbulent updrafts are incorporated in the shape of a stochastic Lagrangian model, with spatial and time correlations expressed in terms of turbulent kinetic energy. Using the Fokker–Planck equation, the steady-state probability distributions of supersaturation are analytically computed for a number of approximations involving the time-scale separation between updraft fluctuations and phase relaxation, and droplet or ice particle size fluctuations. While the analytical results are presented in general for single-phase clouds, the calculated distributions are used to compute mixed-phase cloud properties—mixed fraction and mean liquid water content in an initially icy cloud—and are argued to be useful for generalizing and constructing new parameterization schemes.

Significance Statement

Supersaturation is the fuel for the development of clouds in the atmosphere. In this paper, our goal is to better understand the supersaturation budget of clouds embedded in a turbulent environment by analyzing the basic equations of cloud microphysics. It is found that the turbulent characteristics of an air parcel substantially affect the cloud’s supersaturation budget and hence its life cycle. This is also shown in the context of mixed-phase clouds where, depending on the turbulent regime, different liquid-to-ice ratios are found. Consequently, the theoretical approach of this paper is crucial to develop tools to parameterize small-scale atmospheric features, like clouds, into global circulation models to improve climate projections for the future.

Open access
Chia Rui Ong
,
Makoto Koike
,
Tempei Hashino
, and
Hiroaki Miura

Abstract

In simulations of Arctic mixed-phase clouds, cloud persistence and the liquid water path (LWP) are sensitive to ice particle number concentrations. Here, we explore sensitivities of cloud microphysical properties to the dominant ice particle shape (dendrites, plates, columns, or spheres) using the SCALE-AMPS large-eddy simulation model. AMPS is a bin microphysics scheme that predicts particle shapes based on the inherent growth ratio (IGR) of spheroids, which determines vapor depositional growth rates along the a and c axes, and the rimed and aggregate mass fractions. We examine the impacts of various IGR values on simulations of clouds observed during the M-PACE and SHEBA experiments. Under M-PACE (SHEBA) conditions, LWP varies between 49 (1.1) and 230 (6.7) g m−2, and the ice water path (IWP) varies between 3 (0.03) and 40 (0.12) g m−2, depending on the ice shape. The lowest LWP and the highest IWP are obtained when columnar particles dominate because their low terminal velocities and large capacitance and collisional area result in large vapor deposition and riming rates, whereas the highest LWP and lowest IWP are obtained when spherical particles dominate because their vapor deposition and riming rates are low. Because ice particle shape significantly influences simulated Arctic mixed-phase clouds, reliable simulations require accurately estimated IGR values under various atmospheric conditions. Finally, comparisons between the simulation results and observations show that the size distribution larger than 2000 μm is better reproduced when the increase in rimed mass that causes ice particles to become spherical is suppressed.

Significance Statement

Atmospheric models have difficulties in reproducing Arctic mixed-phase clouds because of uncertainties in the parameterization of microphysical processes. This is the first study to use a large-eddy simulation model implemented with a habit-predicting bin microphysics scheme to demonstrate the important role of ice particle shape on the microphysical properties of both heavy-riming and no-riming mixed-phase clouds. We found the vapor deposition and riming rates to be greatly influenced by ice particle shape. By comparing the ice particle size distribution, mass–diameter relationship, and area ratio between simulation results and observations, we show that a hexagonal ice shape model and a riming model that simply converts ice crystals to graupel may not accurately reproduce actual heavy-riming clouds.

Open access
J. Federico Conte
,
Jorge L. Chau
,
Erdal Yiğit
,
José Suclupe
, and
Rodolfo Rodríguez

Abstract

One year of Spread spectrum Interferometric Multistatic meteor radar Observing Network (SIMONe) measurements are analyzed and compared for the first time between two low-latitude locations in Peru: Jicamarca (12°S, 77°W) and Piura (5°S, 80°W). Investigation of the mean horizontal winds and tides reveals that mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) planetary-scale dynamics are similar between these two locations, although differences can be seen in some tidal components, e.g., the diurnal tide. On the other hand, 28-day median values of the momentum fluxes obtained with 4-h, 4-km time–altitude bins indicate that the mesoscale dynamics differ significantly between Jicamarca and Piura, places separated by approximately 850 km. From the middle of July until October 2021, a strong acceleration of the background zonal wind by westward-propagating gravity waves (GWs) is observed above ∼90 km at both locations, although with larger amplitudes over Jicamarca. From the middle of January until April 2022, a second strong acceleration of the background zonal wind, again by westward-propagating GWs, is observed, but this time with larger amplitudes over Piura. The latter is further supported by the dominance of negative vertical gradients of the zonal momentum flux above 89 km of altitude. Thus, these results observationally confirm the previous studies based on general circulation model simulations indicating that the directions of the zonal GW drag and the zonal background wind coincide in the low-latitude MLT. The weak correlations between the horizontal wind gradients over Jicamarca and Piura reinforce the fact that the mesoscale dynamics are different at these two locations.

Open access
Emily de Jong
,
Eliot Quon
, and
Shashank Yellapantula

Abstract

Low-level jets (LLJs), in which the wind speed attains a local maximum at low altitudes, have been found to occur in the U.S. mid-Atlantic offshore, a region of active wind energy deployment as of 2023. In contrast to widely studied regions such as the U.S. southern Great Plains and the California coastline, the mechanisms that underlie LLJs in the U.S. mid-Atlantic are poorly understood. This work analyzes floating lidar data from buoys deployed in the New York Bight to understand the characteristics and causes of coastal LLJs in the region. Application of the Hilbert–Huang transform, a frequency analysis technique, to LLJ case studies reveals that mid-Atlantic jets frequently occur during times of adjustment in synoptic-scale motions, such as large-scale temperature and pressure gradients or frontal passages, and that they do not coincide with motions at the native inertial oscillation frequency. Subsequent analysis with theoretical models of inertial oscillation and thermal winds further reveals that these jets can form in the stationary geostrophic wind profile from horizontal temperature gradients alone—in contrast to canonical LLJs, which arise from low-level inertial motions. Here, inertial oscillation can further modulate the intensity and altitude of the wind speed maximum. Statistical evidence indicates that these oscillations arise from stable stratification and the associated frictional decoupling due to warmer air flowing over a cold sea surface during the springtime land–sea breeze. These results improve our conceptual understanding of mid-Atlantic jets and may be used to better predict low-level wind speed maxima.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this work is to identify and characterize the atmospheric mechanisms that result in an occasional low-level maximum in the wind speed off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coastline. Our findings show that these low-level jets form due to horizontal temperature gradients arising from fronts and synoptic systems, as well as from the land–sea breeze that forces warmer air over the cold ocean surface. This work aids predictability of such jets, improves our understanding of this coastal environment, and has implications for future deployment of offshore wind energy in this region.

Open access
Brandon Wolding
,
Adam Rydbeck
,
Juliana Dias
,
Fiaz Ahmed
,
Maria Gehne
,
George Kiladis
,
Emily M. Riley Dellaripa
,
Xingchao Chen
, and
Isabel L. McCoy

Abstract

An energy budget combining atmospheric moist static energy (MSE) and upper ocean heat content (OHC) is used to examine the processes impacting day-to-day convective variability in the tropical Indian and western Pacific Oceans. Feedbacks arising from atmospheric and oceanic transport processes, surface fluxes, and radiation drive the cyclical amplification and decay of convection around suppressed and enhanced convective equilibrium states, referred to as shallow and deep convective discharge–recharge (D–R) cycles, respectively. The shallow convective D–R cycle is characterized by alternating enhancements of shallow cumulus and stratocumulus, often in the presence of extensive cirrus clouds. The deep convective D–R cycle is characterized by sequential increases in shallow cumulus, congestus, narrow deep precipitation, wide deep precipitation, a mix of detached anvil and altostratus and altocumulus, and once again shallow cumulus cloud types. Transitions from the shallow to deep D–R cycle are favored by a positive “column process” feedback, while discharge of convective instability and OHC by mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) contributes to transitions from the deep to shallow D–R cycle. Variability in the processes impacting MSE is comparable in magnitude to, but considerably more balanced than, variability in the processes impacting OHC. Variations in the quantity of atmosphere–ocean coupled static energy (MSE + OHC) result primarily from atmospheric and oceanic transport processes, but are mainly realized as changes in OHC. MCSs are unique in their ability to rapidly discharge both lower-tropospheric convective instability and OHC.

Open access
Fabian Hoffmann
,
Franziska Glassmeier
,
Takanobu Yamaguchi
, and
Graham Feingold

Abstract

Stratocumulus occur in closed- or open-cell states, which tend to be associated with high or low cloud cover and the absence or presence of precipitation, respectively. Thus, the transition between these states has substantial implications for the role of this cloud type in Earth’s radiation budget. In this study, we analyze transitions between these states using an ensemble of 127 large-eddy simulations, covering a wide range of conditions. Our analysis is focused on the behavior of these clouds in a cloud fraction (fc ) scene albedo (A) phase space, which has been shown in previous studies to be a useful framework for interpreting system behavior. For the transition from closed to open cells, we find that precipitation creates narrower clouds and scavenges cloud droplets for all fc . However, precipitation decreases the cloud depth for fc > 0.8 only, causing a rapid decrease in A. For fc < 0.8, the cloud depth actually increases due to mesoscale organization of the cloud field. As the cloud deepening balances the effects of cloud droplet scavenging in terms of influence on A, changes in A are determined by the decreasing fc only, causing a linear decrease in A for fc < 0.8. For the transition from open to closed cells, we find that longwave radiative cooling drives the cloud development, with cloud widening dominating for fc < 0.5. For fc > 0.5, clouds begin to deepen gradually due to the decreasing efficiency of lateral expansion. The smooth switch between cloud widening and deepening leads to a more gentle change in A compared to the transitions under precipitating conditions.

Significance Statement

By reflecting a substantial fraction of solar shortwave radiation back to space, shallow clouds constitute a major cooling agent in Earth’s radiation budget. To constrain this effect, a profound understanding of cloud cover and cloud albedo is necessary. In this study, we analyze the processes that drive the variability in these cloud properties in stratocumulus clouds, a very common cloud type covering approximately 20% of the globe. For these clouds, we show that changes from low to high or high to low cloud cover are different due to the underlying cloud micro- and macrophysics, elucidating this crucial aspect of aerosol–cloud–climate interactions.

Open access
Andrew Janiszeski
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Brian F. Jewett
,
Greg M. McFarquhar
,
Troy J. Zaremba
, and
John E. Yorks

Abstract

This paper explores whether particles within uniformly spaced generating cells falling at terminal velocity within observed 2D wind fields and idealized deformation flow beneath cloud top can be reorganized consistent with the presence of single and multibanded structures present on WSR-88D radars. In the first experiment, two-dimensional wind fields, calculated along cross sections normal to the long axis of snowbands observed during three northeast U.S. winter storms, were taken from the initialization of the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model. This experiment demonstrated that the greater the residence time of the particles in each of the three storms, the greater particle reorganization occurred. For experiments with longer residence times, increases in particle concentrations were nearly or directly collocated with reflectivity bands. For experiments with shorter residence times, particle reorganization still conformed to the band features but with less concentration enhancement. This experiment demonstrates that the combination of long particle residence time and net convergent cross-sectional flow through the cloud depth is sufficient to reorganize particles into locations consistent with precipitation bands. Increased concentrations of ice particles can then contribute, along with any dynamic forcing, to the low-level reflectivity bands seen on WSR-88D radars. In a second experiment, the impact of flow deformation on the reorganization of falling ice particles was investigated using an idealized kinematic model with stretching deformation flow of different depths and magnitudes. These experiments showed that deformation flow provides for little particle reorganization given typical deformation layer depths and magnitudes within the comma head of such storms.

Significance Statement

Past research with vertically pointing and scanning radars presents two different perspectives regarding snowfall organization in winter storms. Vertically pointing radars often observe cloud-top generating cells with precipitation fallstreaks descending into a broad stratiform echo at lower altitudes. In contrast, scanning radars often observe snowfall organized in quasi-linear bands. This work attempts to provide a connection between these two perspectives by examining how two-dimensional convergent and deformation flow occurring in winter storms can contribute to the reorganization of snowfall between cloud top and the ground.

Open access
Chongxing Fan
and
Xianglei Huang

Abstract

In the absence of scattering, thermal contrast in the atmosphere is the key to infrared remote sensing. Without the thermal contrast, the amount of absorption will be identical to the amount of emission, making the atmospheric vertical structure undetectable using remote sensing techniques. Here we show that, even in such an isothermal atmosphere, the scattering of clouds can cause a distinguishable change in upwelling radiance at the top of the atmosphere. A two-stream analytical solution, as well as a budget analysis based on Monte Carlo simulations, are used to offer a physical explanation of such influence on an idealized isothermal atmosphere by cloud scattering: it increases the chance of photons being absorbed by the atmosphere before they can reach the boundaries (both top and bottom), which leads to a reduction of TOA upwelling radiance. Actual sounding profiles and cloud properties inferred from satellite observations within 6-h time frames are fed into a more realistic and comprehensive radiative transfer model to show such cloud scattering effect, under nearly isothermal circumstances in the lower troposphere, can lead to ∼1–1.5-K decrease in brightness temperature for the nadir-view MODIS 8.5-μm channel. The study suggests that cloud scattering can provide signals useful for remote sensing applications even for such an isothermal environment.

Open access
Kerry Emanuel

Abstract

Large values of convective available potential energy (CAPE) are an important ingredient for many severe convective storms, yet there has been comparatively little research on how, physically, such large values arise or why they take on the observed values and climatology. Here we build on recently published observational and theoretical work to construct a simple, one-dimensional coupled soil–atmosphere model of preconvective boundary layer growth, driven by a single diurnal cycle of prescribed net surface radiation. Based on this model and previously published research, we suggest that high CAPE (>∼1000 J kg−1) results when air masses that have been significantly modified by passage over dry, lightly vegetated soils are advected over moist and/or moderately vegetated soils and then exposed to surface solar heating. Several diurnal cycles may be needed to raise the moist static energy of the boundary layer to levels consistent with high CAPE. The production of CAPE and erosion of convective inhibition (CIN) are strongly affected by the potential temperature of the desert-modified air mass, the level of near-surface soil moisture (and root-zone soil moisture if significant vegetation is present), the type of soil, and the characteristics of the vegetation. Consequently, CAPE production and severe convective weather may be significantly affected by regional-scale land-use changes and by climate change.

Significance Statement

The energy available for severe convective storms depends strongly on the properties of the underlying soil and vegetation and the temperature of air masses formed over dry terrain upstream. This implies that the severity of convective storms can be strongly affected by changes in land use and by climate change.

Open access
Marius Levin Thomas
and
Volkmar Wirth

Abstract

Banner clouds are clouds in the lee of steep mountains or sharp ridges on otherwise cloud-free days. Previous studies investigated various aspects of banner cloud formation in numerical simulations, most of which were based on idealized orography and a neutrally stratified ambient atmosphere. The present study extends these simulations in two important directions by 1) examining the impact of various types of orography ranging from an idealized pyramid to the realistic orography of Mount Matterhorn and 2) accounting for an ambient atmosphere that turns from neutral to stably stratified below the mountain summit. Not surprisingly, realistic orography introduces asymmetries in the spanwise direction. At the same time, banner cloud occurrence remains associated with a coherent area of strong uplift, although this region does not have to be located exclusively in the lee of the mountain any longer. In the case of Mount Matterhorn with a westerly ambient flow, a large fraction of air parcels rises along the southern face of the mountain, before they reach the lee and are lifted into the banner cloud. The presence of a shallow boundary layer with its top below the mountain summit introduces more complex behavior compared to a neutrally stratified boundary layer; in particular, it introduces a dependence on wind speed, because strong wind is associated with strong turbulence that is able to raise the boundary layer height and, thus, facilitates the formation of a banner cloud.

Open access