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Matthew R. Kumjian and Olivier P. Prat

Abstract

The impact of the collisional warm-rain microphysical processes on the polarimetric radar variables is quantified using a coupled microphysics–electromagnetic scattering model. A one-dimensional bin-microphysical rain shaft model that resolves explicitly the evolution of the drop size distribution (DSD) under the influence of collisional coalescence and breakup, drop settling, and aerodynamic breakup is coupled with electromagnetic scattering calculations that simulate vertical profiles of the polarimetric radar variables: reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization Z H, differential reflectivity Z DR, and specific differential phase K DP. The polarimetric radar fingerprint of each individual microphysical process is quantified as a function of the shape of the initial DSD and for different values of nominal rainfall rate. Results indicate that individual microphysical processes (collisional processes, evaporation) display a distinctive signature and evolve within specific areas of Z HZ DR and Z DRK DP space. Furthermore, a comparison of the resulting simulated vertical profiles of the polarimetric variables with radar and disdrometer observations suggests that bin-microphysical parameterizations of drop breakup most frequently used are overly aggressive for the largest rainfall rates, resulting in very “tropical” DSDs heavily skewed toward smaller drops.

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Olivier P. Prat, Ana P. Barros, and Firat Y. Testik

Abstract

The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of a new parameterization of drop–drop collision outcomes based on the relationship between Weber number and drop diameter ratios on the dynamical simulation of raindrop size distributions. Results of the simulations with the new parameterization are compared with those of the classical parameterizations. Comparison with previous results indicates on average an increase of 70% in the drop number concentration and a 15% decrease in rain intensity for the equilibrium drop size distribution (DSD). Furthermore, the drop bounce process is parameterized as a function of drop size based on laboratory experiments for the first time in a microphysical model. Numerical results indicate that drop bounce has a strong influence on the equilibrium DSD, in particular for very small drops (<0.5 mm), leading to an increase of up to 150% in the small drop number concentration (left-hand side of the DSD) when compared to previous modeling results without accounting for bounce effects.

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Ana P. Barros, Olivier P. Prat, Prabhakar Shrestha, Firat Y. Testik, and Larry F. Bliven

Abstract

Raindrop collision and breakup is a stochastic process that affects the evolution of drop size distributions (DSDs) in precipitating clouds. Low and List have remained the obligatory reference on this matter for almost three decades. Based on a limited number of drop sizes (10), Low and List proposed generalized parameterizations of collisional breakup across the raindrop spectra that are standard building blocks for numerical models of rainfall microphysics. Here, recent laboratory experiments of drop collision at NASA’s Wallops Island Facility (NWIF) using updated high-speed imaging technology with the objective of assessing the generality of Low and List are reported. The experimental fragment size distributions (FSDs) for the collision of selected drop pairs were evaluated against explicit simulations using a dynamical microphysics model (Prat and Barros, with parameterizations based on Low and List updated by McFarquhar). One-to-one comparison of the FSDs shows similar distributions; however, the model was found to underestimate the fragment numbers observed in the smallest diameter range (e.g., D < 0.2 mm), and to overestimate the number of fragments produced when small drops (diameter DS ≥ 1mm) and large drops (diameter DL ≥ 3mm) collide. This effect is particularly large for fragments in the 0.5–1.0-mm range, and more so for filament breakup (the most frequent type of breakup observed in laboratory conditions), reflecting up to 30% uncertainty in the left-hand side of the FSD (i.e., the submillimeter range). For coalescence, the NWIF experiments confirmed the drop collision energy cutoff (ET) estimated by Low and List (i.e., ET > 5.0 μJ). Finally, the digital imagery of the laboratory experiments was analyzed to determine the characteristic time necessary to reach stability in relevant statistical properties. The results indicate that the temporal separation between particle (i.e., single hydrometeor) and population behavior, that is, the characteristic time scale to reach homogeneity in the NWIF raindrop populations, is 160 ms, which provides a lower bound to the governing time scale in population-based microphysical models.

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Hugh Morrison, Marcus van Lier-Walqui, Matthew R. Kumjian, and Olivier P. Prat

Abstract

A new framework is proposed for the bulk parameterization of rain microphysics: the Bayesian Observationally Constrained Statistical–Physical Scheme (BOSS). It is designed to facilitate direct constraint by observations using Bayesian inference. BOSS combines existing process-level microphysical knowledge with flexible process rate formulations and parameters constrained by observations within a Bayesian framework. Using a raindrop size distribution (DSD) normalization method that relates DSD moments to one another via generalized power series, generalized multivariate power expressions are derived for the microphysical process rates as functions of a set of prognostic DSD moments. The scheme is flexible and can utilize any number and combination of prognostic moments and any number of terms in the process rate formulations. This means that both uncertainty in parameter values and structural uncertainty associated with the process rate formulations can be investigated systematically, which is not possible using traditional schemes. In this paper, BOSS is compared to two- and three-moment versions of a traditional bulk rain microphysics scheme (denoted as MORR). It is shown that some process formulations in MORR are analytically equivalent to the generalized power expressions in BOSS using one or two terms, while others are not. BOSS is able to replicate the behavior of MORR in idealized one-dimensional rainshaft tests, but with a much more flexible and systematic design. Part II of this study describes the application of BOSS to derive rain microphysical process rates and posterior parameter distributions in Bayesian experiments using Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling constrained by synthetic observations.

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Marcus van Lier-Walqui, Hugh Morrison, Matthew R. Kumjian, Karly J. Reimel, Olivier P. Prat, Spencer Lunderman, and Matthias Morzfeld

Abstract

Observationally informed development of a new framework for bulk rain microphysics, the Bayesian Observationally Constrained Statistical–Physical Scheme (BOSS; described in Part I of this study), is demonstrated. This scheme’s development is motivated by large uncertainties in cloud and weather simulations associated with approximations and assumptions in existing microphysics schemes. Here, a proof-of-concept study is presented using a Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling algorithm with BOSS to probabilistically estimate microphysical process rates and parameters directly from a set of synthetically generated rain observations. The framework utilized is an idealized steady-state one-dimensional column rainshaft model with specified column-top rain properties and a fixed thermodynamical profile. Different configurations of BOSS—flexibility being a key feature of this approach—are constrained via synthetic observations generated from a traditional three-moment bulk microphysics scheme. The ability to retrieve correct parameter values when the true parameter values are known is illustrated. For cases when there is no set of true parameter values, the accuracy of configurations of BOSS that have different levels of complexity is compared. It is found that addition of the sixth moment as a prognostic variable improves prediction of the third moment (proportional to bulk rain mass) and rain rate. In contrast, increasing process rate formulation complexity by adding more power terms has little benefit—a result that is explained using further-idealized experiments. BOSS rainshaft simulations are shown to well estimate the true process rates from constraint by bulk rain observations, with the additional benefit of rigorously quantified uncertainty of these estimates.

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