Abstract

Numerical models that are unable to resolve moist convection in the atmosphere employ physical parameterizations to represent the effects of the associated processes on the resolved-scale state. Most of these schemes are designed to represent the dominant class of cumulus convection that is driven by latent heat release in a conditionally unstable profile with a surplus of convective available potential energy (CAPE). However, an important subset of events occurs in low-CAPE environments in which potential and symmetric instabilities can sustain moist convective motions. Convection schemes that are dependent on the presence of CAPE are unable to depict accurately the effects of cumulus convection in these cases. A mass-flux parameterization is developed to respresent such events, with triggering and closure components that are specifically designed to depict subgrid-scale convection in low-CAPE profiles. Case studies show that the scheme eliminates the “bulls-eyes” in precipitation guidance that develop in the absence of parameterized convection, and that it can represent the initiation of elevated convection that organizes squall line structure. The introduction of the parameterization leads to significant improvements in the quality of quantitative precipitation forecasts, including a large reduction in the frequency of spurious heavy-precipitation events predicted by the model. An evaluation of surface and upper-air guidance shows that the scheme systematically improves the model solution in the warm season, a result that suggests that the parameterization is capable of accurately representing the effects of moist convection in a range of low-CAPE environments.

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