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Zachary J. Lebo and Hugh Morrison


The dynamical effects of increased aerosol loading on the strength and structure of numerically simulated squall lines are explored. Results are explained in the context of Rotunno–Klemp–Weisman (RKW) theory. Changes in aerosol loading lead to changes in raindrop size and number that ultimately affect the strength of the cold pool via changes in evaporation. Thus, the balance between cold pool and low-level wind shear–induced vorticities can be changed by an aerosol perturbation. Simulations covering a wide range of low-level wind shears are performed to study the sensitivity to aerosols in different environments and provide more general conclusions. Simulations with relatively weak low-level environmental wind shear (0.0024 s−1) have a relatively strong cold pool circulation compared to the environmental shear. An increase in aerosol loading leads to a weakening of the cold pool and, hence, a more optimal balance between the cold pool– and environmental shear–induced circulations according to RKW theory. Consequently, there is an increase in the convective mass flux of nearly 20% in polluted conditions relative to pristine. This strengthening coincides with more upright convective updrafts and a significant increase (nearly 20%) in cumulative precipitation. An increase in aerosol loading in a strong wind shear environment (0.0064 s−1) leads to less optimal storms and a suppression of the convective mass flux and precipitation. This occurs because the cold pool circulation is weak relative to the environmental shear when the shear is strong, and further weakening of the cold pool with high aerosol loading leads to an even less optimal storm structure (i.e., convective updrafts begin to tilt downshear).

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Kevin G. Kacan and Zachary J. Lebo


The dynamics of convective systems are inherently linked to microphysical processes through phase changes that result in warming or cooling. This is especially true of near-surface cooling via evaporation and melting of falling hydrometeors. In most numerical simulations, the melting of frozen hydrometeors (e.g., hail, graupel, snow) is computed within parameterized bulk microphysics schemes, many of which lack the ability to accurately represent mixed-phase hydrometeors (i.e., partially melted ice), which can affect hydrometeor sedimentation, melting, and evaporation of shed drops. To better understand the microphysical and dynamical effects of melting in convective storms, a bin microphysics scheme was used in the Weather Research and Forecasting Model for two idealized cases: a supercell storm and a squall line. Physically based predicted liquid fraction, instantaneous melting, and instantaneous shedding schemes were used to examine the role and importance of melting hydrometeors for these two storm modes. The results suggest that the amount of precipitation is dependent on the representation of melting. Moreover, the dynamic and thermodynamic characteristics of the simulated storms are found to differ substantially between the melting scenarios, resulting in varied storm system evolution; these differences are found to be dependent on the ambient aerosol concentration, although the differences induced by changing the representation of melting generally outweigh those of changing the aerosol loading. The results highlight the large role of melting in convective storm characteristics and suggest that further model improvements are needed in the near future.

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Matthew R. Kumjian, Zachary J. Lebo, and Hughbert C. Morrison


Deep convective storms produce raindrops through three mechanisms: condensation and coalescence growth of cloud liquid droplets (i.e., warm processes), melting of ice hydrometeors, and shedding from wet hailstones. To investigate the relative importance of these mechanisms and their contributions to exotic drop size distributions (DSDs) observed near the surface in supercell storms, an idealized simulation of a supercell is performed using a modified version of the Morrison two-moment microphysics scheme. The modified scheme includes separate categories for warm, shed, and melted rain.

Rain originating from melting ice dominates the rain mass at low levels, especially along the right forward-flank precipitation shield, whereas shed-rain drops dominate a region within the left forward flank. Warm rain is only dominant in the upshear portion of the rear flank of the storm at low levels, though it dominates the total rain mass within the main updraft aloft. The warm-rain mass at low levels is associated with strong low-level downdrafts, consistent with previously published hypotheses based on polarimetric radar observations. Raindrops produced via warm processes are smaller on average than those produced by shedding and melting; drops in the latter class tend to be the largest.

Overall, the simulations fail to reproduce the diverse nature of observed supercell DSDs, although the modified microphysics scheme does increase the variability of surface DSDs compared to the Control run. This implies that more sophisticated treatment of rain microphysics is needed to capture the natural variability of supercell DSDs, including the ability to evolve the DSD spectral shape through sedimentation and collisional processes.

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Lulin Xue, Jiwen Fan, Zachary J. Lebo, Wei Wu, Hugh Morrison, Wojciech W. Grabowski, Xia Chu, István Geresdi, Kirk North, Ronald Stenz, Yang Gao, Xiaofeng Lou, Aaron Bansemer, Andrew J. Heymsfield, Greg M. McFarquhar, and Roy M. Rasmussen


The squall-line event on 20 May 2011, during the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds (MC3E) field campaign has been simulated by three bin (spectral) microphysics schemes coupled into the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Semi-idealized three-dimensional simulations driven by temperature and moisture profiles acquired by a radiosonde released in the preconvection environment at 1200 UTC in Morris, Oklahoma, show that each scheme produced a squall line with features broadly consistent with the observed storm characteristics. However, substantial differences in the details of the simulated dynamic and thermodynamic structure are evident. These differences are attributed to different algorithms and numerical representations of microphysical processes, assumptions of the hydrometeor processes and properties, especially ice particle mass, density, and terminal velocity relationships with size, and the resulting interactions between the microphysics, cold pool, and dynamics. This study shows that different bin microphysics schemes, designed to be conceptually more realistic and thus arguably more accurate than bulk microphysics schemes, still simulate a wide spread of microphysical, thermodynamic, and dynamic characteristics of a squall line, qualitatively similar to the spread of squall-line characteristics using various bulk schemes. Future work may focus on improving the representation of ice particle properties in bin schemes to reduce this uncertainty and using the similar assumptions for all schemes to isolate the impact of physics from numerics.

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