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  • Author or Editor: Sonia Lasher-Trapp x
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Daniel H. Moser
and
Sonia Lasher-Trapp

Abstract

Cumulus clouds modify their immediate surroundings by detraining their warm, humid updrafts. When clouds are closely spaced, this conditioning of the local environment may alter the properties of the air entrained by neighboring clouds and slow their dilution. This effect has not been quantified, nor has its importance been determined for influencing the amount of convective rainfall from a system of neighboring clouds. Here, a series of idealized numerical simulations, which are based on an observed line of precipitating cumulus congestus clouds, is performed using increasingly smaller cloud spacing to investigate how cloud proximity may alter entrainment, cloud development, and convective rainfall. For clouds of radius R, which is approximately 1 km in these simulations, distances between updraft centers from 4R through 9R are tested. Over this range, the initial clouds all exhibit negligible differences in the directly calculated entrainment rates and in the thermodynamic characteristics of the entrained air. Instead, for cloud separation distances of less than 6R, the subcloud inflow is increasingly disturbed, limiting initial cloud depths and slowing updraft speeds and precipitation onset. Ultimately, however, these same cases produce a new generation of clouds that are stronger and produce more rainfall than for all other cases. The smaller cloud separation distance allows precipitation outflows from the initial clouds to meet and force new, stronger cloud updrafts. For this second generation of clouds, their entrained air is slightly more humid, but the stronger updrafts and ingestion of residual ice and precipitation from earlier clouds appear to be most important for enhancing their rainfall.

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Sonia Lasher-Trapp
and
Justin P. Stachnik

Abstract

Numerous studies have indicated the potential for giant and ultragiant aerosol particles to expedite the warm-rain process as a result of their extreme sizes. The central question regarding their importance is, Are they present in large enough numbers to influence the microphysics of the clouds significantly? Thus, quantification of these particles and their variability is paramount. New observations collected during the second Alliance Icing Research Study (AIRS II) are presented as evidence of the presence and variability of giant and ultragiant aerosol particles over a continental region—in this case, within the eastern Great Lakes region and parts of the midwestern United States and Canada during one month in winter 2003. Sources and factors contributing to the amount of these particles observed in the lower atmosphere were difficult to identify separately; future studies incorporating high-resolution weather modeling are likely needed.

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Sonia Lasher-Trapp
,
Sarah Anderson-Bereznicki
,
Ashley Shackelford
,
Cynthia H. Twohy
, and
James G. Hudson

Abstract

Supercooled large drops (SLD) can be a significant hazard for aviation. Past studies have shown that warm-rain processes are prevalent, or even dominant, in stratiform clouds containing SLD, but the primary factors that control SLD production are still not well understood. Giant aerosol particles have been shown to accelerate the formation of the first drizzle drops in some clouds and thus are a viable source of SLD, but observational support for testing their effectiveness in supercooled stratiform clouds has been lacking. In this study, new observations collected during six research flights from the Alliance Icing Research Study II (AIRS II) are analyzed to assess the factors that may be relevant to SLD formation, with a particular emphasis on the importance of giant aerosol particles. An initial comparison of observed giant aerosol particle number concentrations with the observed SLD suggests that they were present in sufficient numbers to be the source of the SLD. However, microphysical calculations within an adiabatic parcel model, initialized with the observed aerosol distributions and cloud properties, suggest that the giant aerosol particles were only a limited source of SLD. More SLD was produced in the modeled clouds with low droplet concentrations, simply by an efficient warm-rain process acting at temperatures below 0°C. For cases in which the warm-rain process is limited by a higher droplet concentration and small cloud depth/liquid water content, the giant aerosol particles were then the only source of SLD. The modeling results are consistent with the observed trends in SLD across the six AIRS II cases.

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Sonia Lasher-Trapp
,
Shailendra Kumar
,
Daniel H. Moser
,
Alan M. Blyth
,
Jeffrey R. French
,
Robert C. Jackson
,
David C. Leon
, and
David M. Plummer

ABSTRACT

The Convective Precipitation Experiment (COPE) documented the dynamical and microphysical evolution of convection in southwestern England for testing and improving quantitative precipitation forecasting. A strong warm rain process was hypothesized to produce graupel quickly, initiating ice production by rime splintering earlier to increase graupel production and, ultimately, produce heavy rainfall. Here, convection observed on two subsequent days (2 and 3 August 2013) is used to test this hypothesis and illustrate how environmental factors may alter the microphysical progression. The vertical wind shear and cloud droplet number concentrations on 2 August were 2 times those observed on 3 August. Convection on both days produced comparable maximum radar-estimated rain rates, but in situ microphysical measurements indicated much less ice in the clouds on 2 August, despite having maximum cloud tops that were nearly 2 km higher than on 3 August. Idealized 3D numerical simulations of the convection in their respective environments suggest that the relative importance of particular microphysical processes differed. Higher (lower) cloud droplet number concentrations slow (accelerate) the warm rain process as expected, which in turn slows (accelerates) graupel formation. Rime splintering can explain the abundance of ice observed on 3 August, but it was hampered by strong vertical wind shear on 2 August. In the model, the additional ice produced by rime splintering was ineffective in enhancing surface rainfall; strong updrafts on both days lofted supercooled raindrops well above the 0°C level where they froze to become graupel. The results illustrate the complexity of dynamical–microphysical interactions in producing convective rainfall and highlight unresolved issues in understanding and modeling the competing microphysical processes.

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David M. Plummer
,
Jeffrey R. French
,
David C. Leon
,
Alan M. Blyth
,
Sonia Lasher-Trapp
,
Lindsay J. Bennett
,
David R. L. Dufton
,
Robert C. Jackson
, and
Ryan R. Neely

Abstract

Analyses of the radar-observed structure and derived rainfall statistics of warm-season convection developing columns of enhanced positive differential reflectivity Z DR over England’s southwest peninsula are presented here. Previous observations of Z DR columns in developing cumulonimbus clouds over England were rare. The observations presented herein suggest otherwise, at least in the southwesterly winds over the peninsula. The results are the most extensive of their kind in the United Kingdom; the data were collected using the National Centre for Atmospheric Science dual-polarization X-band radar (NXPol) during the Convective Precipitation Experiment (COPE). In contrast to recent studies of Z DR columns focused on deep clouds that developed in high-instability environments, the COPE measurements show relatively frequent Z DR columns in shallower clouds, many only 4–5 km deep. The presence of Z DR columns is used to infer that an active warm rain process has contributed to precipitation evolution in convection deep enough for liquid and ice growth to take place. Clouds with Z DR columns were identified objectively in three COPE deployments, with both discrete convection and clouds embedded in larger convective complexes developing columns. Positive Z DR values typically extended to 1–1.25 km above 0°C in the columns, with Z DR ≥ 1 dB sometimes extending nearly 4 km above 0°C. Values above 3 dB typically occurred in the lowest 500 m above 0°C, with coincident airborne measurements confirming the presence of supercooled raindrops. Statistical analyses indicated that the convection that produced Z DR columns was consistently associated with the larger derived rainfall rates when compared with the overall convective population sampled by the NXPol during COPE.

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