Abstract

Recent observations of cumulus clouds strongly support the hypothesis of Squires (1958) that much of the mixing within such clouds is associated with downward propagating currents initiated near their tops. A similarity theory is here proposed to describe the properties of such currents; the use of similarity is defended on the basis of the observed and predicted scale of the downdrafts. The theory suggests that downward-propagating unsaturated thermals are pervasive throughout all but the largest convective clouds and that quasi-steady unsaturated downdraft plumes may exist in the lower portions of cumulonimbi. In addition to providing a reasonable explanation for the microstructure of and liquid water distribution within cumulus clouds, the theory appears to account for certain severe convective phenomena, including down-bursts. A new but related cloud instability is proposed to account for the occurrence of mamma.

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