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Xukun Xu
and
Huiwen Xue

Abstract

Marine stratocumulus (MSc) cloud amount can decrease with an increase in the cloud-top instability parameter κ, based on the cloud-top entrainment instability (CTEI) theory. Notice that if boundary layer temperature and humidity remain the same, a given κ can correspond to different combinations of free-tropospheric temperature and humidity. By employing large-eddy simulations coupled with bin microphysics, this study investigates the characteristics of three nocturnal nonprecipitating MSc systems with the same κ but different free-tropospheric conditions. It is found that the spread of liquid water path (LWP) among the three cases is large. The LWPs of these three cases are also compared with the base case where κ is smaller. One of the three cases even has larger LWP than the base case, which is not expected by the CTEI theory. Results indicate that the thermodynamic properties of the free-tropospheric air are important. For the three cases with the same κ, cooler and moister free-tropospheric air leads to a cooler and moister boundary layer through entrainment, hence a lower cloud base. A cooler and moister free troposphere also allows the turbulent boundary layer air parcels to overshoot to a higher height, leading to a higher cloud top. Therefore, there is a spread in LWPs among systems with the same κ. The spread can be so large that sometimes systems with larger κ may have larger LWPs than systems with smaller κ. More simulations are also performed covering other free tropospheric conditions and aerosol concentrations.

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Huiwen Xue
and
Graham Feingold

Abstract

The effects of aerosol on warm trade cumulus clouds are investigated using a large-eddy simulation with size-resolved cloud microphysics. It is shown that, as expected, increases in aerosols cause a reduction in precipitation and an increase in the cloud-averaged liquid water path (LWP). However, for the case under study, cloud fraction, cloud size, cloud-top height, and depth decrease in response to increasing aerosol concentration, contrary to accepted hypotheses associated with the second aerosol indirect effect. It is found that the complex responses of clouds to aerosols are determined by competing effects of precipitation and droplet evaporation associated with entrainment. As aerosol concentration increases, precipitation suppression tends to maintain the clouds and lead to higher cloud LWP, whereas cloud droplets become smaller and evaporate more readily, which tends to dissipate the clouds and leads to lower cloud fraction, cloud size, and depth. An additional set of experiments with higher surface latent heat flux, and hence higher LWP and drizzle rate, was also performed. Changes in cloud properties due to aerosols have the same trends as in the base runs, although the magnitudes of the changes are larger. Evidence for significant stabilization (or destabilization) of the subcloud layer due to drizzle is not found, mainly because drizzling clouds cover only a small fraction of the domain. It is suggested that cloud fraction may only increase with increasing aerosol loading for larger clouds that are less susceptible to entrainment and evaporation. Finally, it is noted that at any given aerosol concentration the dynamical variability in bulk cloud parameters such as LWP tends to be larger than the aerosol-induced changes in these parameters, indicating that the second aerosol indirect effect may be hard to measure in this cloud type. The variability in cloud optical depth is, however, dominated by changes in aerosol, rather than dynamics.

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Shizuo Fu
and
Huiwen Xue

Abstract

The effects of ice nuclei (IN) efficiency on the persistent ice formation in Arctic mixed-phase clouds (AMCs) are investigated using a large-eddy simulation model, coupled to a bin microphysics scheme with a prognostic IN formulation. In the three cases where the IN efficiency is high, ice formation and IN depletion are fast. When the IN concentration is 1 and 10 g−1, IN are completely depleted and the cloud becomes purely liquid phase before the end of the 24-h simulation. When the IN concentration is 100 g−1, the IN supply is sufficient but the liquid water is completely consumed so that the cloud dissipates quickly. In the three cases when the IN efficiency is low, ice formation is negligible in the first several hours but becomes significant as the temperature is decreased through longwave cooling. Before the end of the simulation, the cloud is in mixed phase when the IN concentration is 1 and 10 g−1 but dissipates when the IN concentration is 100 g−1. In the case where two types of IN are considered, ice formation persists throughout the simulation. Analysis shows that as the more efficient IN are continuously removed through ice formation, the less efficient IN gradually nucleate more ice crystals because the longwave cooling decreases the cloud temperature. This mechanism is further illustrated with a simple model. These results indicate that a spectrum of IN efficiency is necessary to maintain the persistent ice formation in AMCs.

Open access
Huiwen Xue
,
Graham Feingold
, and
Bjorn Stevens

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of aerosol on clouds, precipitation, and the organization of trade wind cumuli using large eddy simulations (LES). Results show that for this shallow-cumulus-under-stratocumulus case, cloud fraction increases with increasing aerosol as the aerosol number mixing ratio increases from 25 (domain-averaged surface precipitation rate ∼0.65 mm day−1) to 100 mg−1 (negligible surface precipitation). Further increases in aerosol result in a reduction in cloud fraction. It is suggested that opposing influences of aerosol-induced suppression of precipitation and aerosol-induced enhancement of evaporation are responsible for this nonmonotonic behavior.

Under clean conditions (25 mg−1), drizzle is shown to initiate and maintain mesoscale organization of cumulus convection. Precipitation induces downdrafts and cold pool outflow as the cumulus cell develops. At the surface, the center of the cell is characterized by a divergence field, while the edges of the cell are zones of convergence. Convergence drives the formation and development of new cloud cells, leading to a mesoscale open cellular structure. These zones of new cloud formation generate new precipitation zones that continue to reinforce the cellular structure. For simulations with an aerosol concentration of 100 mg−1 the cloud fields do not show any cellular organization. On average, no evidence is found for aerosol effects on the lifetime of these clouds, suggesting that cloud fraction response to changes in aerosol is tied to the frequency of convection and/or cloud size.

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Paquita Zuidema
,
Huiwen Xue
, and
Graham Feingold

Abstract

The net shortwave radiative impact of aerosol on simulations of two shallow marine cloud cases is investigated using a Monte Carlo radiative transfer model. For a shallow cumulus case, increased aerosol concentrations are associated not only with smaller droplet sizes but also reduced cloud fractions and cloud dimensions, a result of evaporation-induced mixing and a lack of precipitation. Three-dimensional radiative transfer (3DRT) effects alter the fluxes by 10%–20% from values calculated using the independent column approximation for these simulations. The first (Twomey) aerosol indirect effect is dominant but the decreased cloud fraction reduces the magnitude of the shortwave cloud forcing substantially. The 3DRT effects slightly decrease the sensitivity of the cloud albedo to changes in droplet size under an overhead sun for the two ranges of cloud liquid water paths examined, but not strongly so. A popular two-stream radiative transfer approximation to the cloud susceptibility overestimates the more directly calculated values for the low liquid-water-path clouds within pristine aerosol conditions by a factor of 2 despite performing well otherwise, suggesting caution in its application to the cloud albedos within broken cloud fields. An evaluation of the influence of cloud susceptibility and cloud fraction changes to a “domain” area-weighted cloud susceptibility found that the domain cloud albedo is more likely to increase under aerosol loading at intermediate aerosol concentrations than under the most pristine conditions, contrary to traditional expectations.

The second simulation (cumulus penetrating into stratus) is characterized by higher cloud fractions and more precipitation. This case has two regimes: a clean, precipitating regime where cloud fraction increases with increasing aerosol, and a more polluted regime where cloud fraction decreases with increasing aerosol. For this case the domain-mean cloud albedo increases steadily with aerosol loading under clean conditions, but increases only slightly after the cloud coverage decreases. Three-dimensional radiative transfer effects are mostly negligible for this case. Both sets of simulations suggest that aerosol-induced cloud fraction changes must be considered in tandem with the Twomey effect for clouds of small dimensions when assessing the net radiative impact, because both effects are drop size dependent and radiatively significant.

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Shizuo Fu
,
Richard Rotunno
, and
Huiwen Xue

Abstract

In orographic precipitation events, there are times when subsaturated low-level layers are observed to be below saturated, nearly moist-neutral, upper-level layers. By performing a series of idealized two-dimensional simulations, this study investigates the response of orographic precipitation to subsaturated low-level layers. When the nondimensional parameter N 2 z t /U, where N 2 and z t are, respectively, the dry Brunt–Väisälä frequency and depth of the subsaturated low-level layer, and U the cross-mountain wind speed, exceeds a critical value, the decelerated region on the upwind side of the mountain moves upwind, resulting in weak surface precipitation near the mountain peak. The critical value determined from the simulations is close to that derived from linear theory. When N 2 z t /U is less than the critical value, increasing z t has two competing effects: 1) the vapor-transport effect, meaning that increasing z t decreases the amount of vapor transported to the mountain, and hence tends to decrease surface precipitation; and 2) the updraft-width effect, meaning that increasing z t enhances flow blocking, producing a wider updraft over the upwind slope, and hence tends to increase surface precipitation. When the vapor-transport effect dominates, surface precipitation decreases with z t . When the updraft-width effect dominates, surface precipitation increases with z t . Increasing the maximum mountain height h m or U generally increases surface precipitation. However, for certain combinations of h m and U, the simulations produce lee waves, which substantially reduce surface precipitation. Finally, the response of orographic precipitation in the simulations with both liquid-phase and ice-phase microphysics is similar to that in the simulations with only liquid-phase microphysics.

Free access
Zhe Li
,
Huiwen Xue
,
Jen-Ping Chen
, and
Wei-Chyung Wang

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of meteorological conditions and aerosols on marine stratocumulus in the southeastern Pacific using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model. Two regimes with different temperature and moisture conditions in the finest model domain are investigated. The western regime is around 87°–79°W, while the eastern regime is around 79°–71°W. In both regimes, cloud fraction, liquid water path (LWP), cloud thickness, and precipitation show significant diurnal cycles. Cloud fraction can be 0.83 during the night and down to 0.29 during the day in the western regime. The diurnal cycles in the eastern regime have smaller amplitudes but are still very strong. Stratocumulus properties also differ in the two regimes. Compared to the western regime, the eastern regime has lower temperature, higher relative humidity, and a more coupled boundary layer, leading to higher cloud fraction (by 0.11) and lower cloud-base height. The eastern regime also has lower inversion height that causes lower cloud-top height and thinner clouds and, hence, lower LWP and less precipitation.

Cloud microphysical properties are very sensitive to aerosols in both regimes. Increasing aerosols greatly increase cloud number concentration, decrease cloud effective radius, and suppress precipitation. Cloud macrophysical properties (cloud fraction, LWP) are not sensitive to aerosols in either regime, most notably in the eastern regime where precipitation amount is less. The changes in cloud fraction and LWP caused by changes in aerosol concentrations are smaller than the changes in the diurnal cycle and the spatial variability between the two regimes.

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Huiwen Xue
,
Alfred M. Moyle
,
Nathan Magee
,
Jerry Y. Harrington
, and
Dennis Lamb

Abstract

Experiments were conducted with an electrodynamic levitation system to study the kinetics of droplet evaporation under chemically rich conditions. Single solution droplets of known composition (HNO3/H2O or H2SO4/HNO3/H2O) were introduced into an environmentally controlled cubic levitation cell. The gaseous environment was set intentionally out of equilibrium with the droplet properties, thus permitting the HNO3 mass accommodation coefficient to be determined. Measurements were performed at room temperature and various pressures (200–1000 hPa). Droplet sizes (initial radii in the range 12–26 μm) were measured versus time to high precision (±0.03 μm) via Mie scattering and compared with sizes computed by different models for mass and heat transfer in the transition regime. The best agreement between the theoretical calculations and experimental results was obtained for an HNO3 mass accommodation coefficient of 0.11 ± 0.03 at atmospheric pressure, 0.17 ± 0.05 at 500 hPa, and 0.33 ± 0.08 at 200 hPa. The determination of the mass accommodation coefficient was not sensitive to the transport model used. The results show that droplet evaporation is strongly limited by HNO3 and occurs in two stages, one characterized by rapid H2O mass transfer and the other by HNO3 mass transfer. The presence of a nonvolatile solute (SO2− 4) affects the activities of the volatile components (HNO3 and H2O) and prevents complete evaporation of the solution droplets. These findings validate recent attempts to include the effects of soluble trace gases in cloud models, as long as suitable model parameters are used.

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