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Pavlos Kollias
and
Bruce Albrecht

Abstract

The turbulent-scale vertical velocity structure in a continental stratocumulus cloud is studied using a 3-mm wavelength Doppler radar operating in a vertically pointing mode. The radar observations provided 30-m sampling in the vertical with 2-s averages of 10 000 samples. Vertical velocity measurements were made continuously for an 8-h period and were further supported by measurements of cloud-base height from a laser ceilometer and liquid water path from a microwave radiometer. During the beginning of the observational period, the cloud layer extended between 200 and 800 m. The vertical velocity variance profiles evolved systematically over the period from a well-defined peak in the upper part of the cloud layer of ∼0.7 m2 s−2 to a peak in the lower part of the cloud layer of 0.2 m2 s−2 as the layer became decoupled later in the observing period. The vertical velocity skewness during the well-coupled conditions was negative through most of the cloud, consistent with the presence of relatively narrow downdrafts. A positive skewness in the top 100 m of the cloud is consistent with relatively narrow penetrating updrafts at this level.

The radar vertical velocities are used to compare the directly observed updraft fractional coverage and mass flux with those obtained from the bulk statistics. These comparisons are consistent with similar comparisons made using a large eddy simulation model. The fractional coverage and the mass flux associated with coherent updraft structures are obtained for a range of criteria used to define the updrafts. A more detailed analysis of the vertical velocities in the cloud confirms the existence of well-defined downdrafts extending through the entire cloud depth. These downdrafts are estimated to have horizontal dimensions of about 200 m and appear to originate on the downshear side of updrafts. The reduction of radar reflectivity at cloud top in the downdrafts is consistent with the entrainment of drier air. This study further illustrates the utility of millimeter-wavelength radars for studying turbulence in boundary layer clouds and particularly in defining the vertical structure of coherent eddies.

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Paloma Borque
,
Edward P. Luke
,
Pavlos Kollias
, and
Fan Yang

Abstract

Turbulence and drizzle-rate measurements from a large dataset of marine and continental low stratiform clouds are presented. Turbulence peaks at cloud base over land and near cloud top over the ocean. For both regions, eddy dissipation rate values of 10−5–10−2 m2 s−3 are observed. Surface-based measurements of cloud condensation nuclei number concentration N CCN and liquid water path (LWP) are used to estimate the precipitation susceptibility S 0. Results show that positive S 0 values are found at low turbulence, consistent with the principle that aerosols suppress precipitation formation, whereas S 0 is smaller, and can be negative, in a more turbulent environment. Under similar macrophysical conditions, especially for medium to high LWP, high (low) turbulence is likely to lessen (promote) the suppression effect of high N CCN on precipitation. Overall, the turbulent effect on S 0 is stronger in continental than marine stratiform clouds. These observational findings are consistent with recent analytical prediction for a turbulence-broadening effect on cloud droplet size distribution.

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Xiaoli Zhou
,
Andrew S. Ackerman
,
Ann M. Fridlind
, and
Pavlos Kollias

Abstract

This study uses eddy-permitting simulations to investigate the mechanisms that promote mesoscale variability of moisture in drizzling stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layers. Simulations show that precipitation tends to increase horizontal scales. Analysis of terms in the prognostic equation for total water mixing ratio variance indicates that moisture stratification plays a leading role in setting horizontal scales. This result is supported by simulations in which horizontal mean thermodynamic profiles are strongly nudged to their initial well-mixed state, which limits cloud scales. It is found that the spatial variability of subcloud moist cold pools surprisingly tends to respond to, rather than determine, the mesoscale variability, which may distinguish them from dry cold pools associated with deeper convection. Simulations also indicate that moisture stratification increases cloud scales specifically by increasing latent heating within updrafts, which increases updraft buoyancy and favors greater horizontal scales.

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Dana M. Tobin
,
Matthew R. Kumjian
,
Mariko Oue
, and
Pavlos Kollias

Abstract

The discovery of a polarimetric radar signature indicative of hydrometeor refreezing has shown promise in its utility to identify periods of ice pellet production. Uniquely characterized well below the melting layer by locally enhanced values of differential reflectivity (Z DR) within a layer of decreasing radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (ZH ), the signature has been documented in cases where hydrometeors were completely melted prior to refreezing. However, polarimetric radar features associated with the refreezing of partially melted hydrometeors have not been examined as rigorously in either an observational or microphysical modeling framework. Here, polarimetric radar data—including vertically pointing Doppler spectral data from the Ka-band Scanning Polarimetric Radar (KASPR)—are analyzed for an ice pellets and rain mixture event where the ice pellets formed via the refreezing of partially melted hydrometeors. Observations show that no such distinct localized Z DR enhancement is present, and that values instead decrease directly beneath enhanced values associated with melting. A simplified, explicit bin microphysical model is then developed to simulate the refreezing of partially melted hydrometeors, and coupled to a polarimetric radar forward operator to examine the impacts of such refreezing on simulated radar variables. Simulated vertical profiles of polarimetric radar variables and Doppler spectra have similar features to observations, and confirm that a Z DR enhancement is not produced. This suggests the possibility of two distinct polarimetric features of hydrometeor refreezing: ones associated with refreezing of completely melted hydrometeors, and those associated with refreezing of partially melted hydrometeors.

Significance Statement

There exist two pathways for the formation of ice pellets: refreezing of fully melted hydrometeors, and refreezing of partially melted hydrometeors. A polarimetric radar signature indicative of fully melted hydrometeor refreezing has been extensively documented in the past, yet no study has documented the refreezing of partially melted hydrometeors. Here, observations and idealized modeling simulations are presented to show different polarimetric radar features associated with partially melted hydrometeor refreezing. The distinction in polarimetric features may be beneficial to identifying layers of supercooled liquid drops within transitional winter storms.

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David M. Zermeño-Díaz
,
Chidong Zhang
,
Pavlos Kollias
, and
Heike Kalesse

Abstract

Observations from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) site at Manus Island in the western Pacific and (re)analysis products are used to investigate moistening by shallow cumulus clouds and by the circulation in large-scale convective events. Large-scale convective events are defined as rainfall anomalies larger than one standard deviation for a minimum of three consecutive days over a 10° × 10° domain centered at Manus. These events are categorized into two groups: Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) events, with eastward propagation, and non-MJO events, without propagation. Shallow cumulus clouds are identified as continuous time–height echoes from 1-min cloud radar observations with their tops below the freezing level and their bases within the boundary layer. Daily moistening tendencies of shallow clouds, estimated from differences between their mean liquid water content and precipitation over their presumed life spans, and those of physical processes and advection from (re)analysis products are compared with local moistening tendencies from soundings. Increases in low-level moisture before rainfall peaks of MJO and non-MJO events are evident in both observations and reanalyses. Before and after the rainfall peaks of these events, precipitating and nonprecipitating shallow clouds exist all the time, but their occurrence fluctuates randomly. Their contributions to moisture tendencies through evaporation of condensed water are evident. These clouds provide perpetual background moistening to the lower troposphere but do not cause the observed increase in low-level moisture leading to rainfall peaks. Such moisture increase is mainly caused by anomalous nonlinear zonal advection.

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Matthew D. Shupe
,
Pavlos Kollias
,
P. Ola G. Persson
, and
Greg M. McFarquhar

Abstract

The characteristics of Arctic mixed-phase stratiform clouds and their relation to vertical air motions are examined using ground-based observations during the Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (MPACE) in Barrow, Alaska, during fall 2004. The cloud macrophysical, microphysical, and dynamical properties are derived from a suite of active and passive remote sensors. Low-level, single-layer, mixed-phase stratiform clouds are typically topped by a 400–700-m-deep liquid water layer from which ice crystals precipitate. These clouds are strongly dominated (85% by mass) by liquid water. On average, an in-cloud updraft of 0.4 m s−1 sustains the clouds, although cloud-scale circulations lead to a variability of up to ±2 m s−1 from the average. Dominant scales-of-variability in both vertical air motions and cloud microphysical properties retrieved by this analysis occur at 0.5–10-km wavelengths. In updrafts, both cloud liquid and ice mass grow, although the net liquid mass growth is usually largest. Between updrafts, nearly all ice falls out and/or sublimates while the cloud liquid diminishes but does not completely evaporate. The persistence of liquid water throughout these cloud cycles suggests that ice-forming nuclei, and thus ice crystal, concentrations must be limited and that water vapor is plentiful. These details are brought together within the context of a conceptual model relating cloud-scale dynamics and microphysics.

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Yunyan Zhang
,
Stephen A. Klein
,
Jiwen Fan
,
Arunchandra S. Chandra
,
Pavlos Kollias
,
Shaocheng Xie
, and
Shuaiqi Tang

Abstract

Based on long-term observations by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program at its Southern Great Plains site, a new composite case of continental shallow cumulus (ShCu) convection is constructed for large-eddy simulations (LES) and single-column models. The case represents a typical daytime nonprecipitating ShCu whose formation and dissipation are driven by the local atmospheric conditions and land surface forcing and are not influenced by synoptic weather events. The case includes early morning initial profiles of temperature and moisture with a residual layer; diurnally varying sensible and latent heat fluxes, which represent a domain average over different land surface types; simplified large-scale horizontal advective tendencies and subsidence; and horizontal winds with prevailing direction and average speed. Observed composite cloud statistics are provided for model evaluation.

The observed diurnal cycle is well reproduced by LES; however, the cloud amount, liquid water path, and shortwave radiative effect are generally underestimated. LES are compared between simulations with an all-or-nothing bulk microphysics and a spectral bin microphysics. The latter shows improved agreement with observations in the total cloud cover and the amount of clouds with depths greater than 300 m. When compared with radar retrievals of in-cloud air motion, LES produce comparable downdraft vertical velocities, but a larger updraft area, velocity, and updraft mass flux. Both observations and LES show a significantly larger in-cloud downdraft fraction and downdraft mass flux than marine ShCu.

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