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Danhong Fu and Xueliang Guo


The cloud-resolving fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5) was used to study the cloud interactions and merging processes in the real case that generated a mesoscale convective system (MCS) on 23 August 2001 in the Beijing region. The merging processes can be grouped into three classes for the studied case: isolated nonprecipitating and precipitating cell merging, cloud cluster merging, and echo core or updraft core merging within cloud systems.

The mechanisms responsible for the multiscale merging processes were investigated. The merging process between nonprecipitating cells and precipitating cells and that between clusters is initiated by forming an upper-level cloud bridge between two adjacent clouds due to upper-level radial outflows in one vigorous cloud. The cloud bridge is further enhanced by a favorable middle- and upper-level pressure gradient force directed from one cloud to its adjacent cloud by accelerating cloud particles being horizontally transported from the cloud to its adjacent cloud and induce the redistribution of condensational heating, which destabilizes the air at and below the cloud bridge and forms a favorable low-level pressure structure for low-level water vapor convergence and merging process. The merging of echo cores within the mesoscale cloud happens because of the interactions between low-level cold outflows associated with the downdrafts formed by these cores.

Further sensitivity studies on the effects of topography and large-scale environmental winds suggest that the favorable pressure gradient force from one cloud to its adjacent cloud and stronger low-level water vapor convergence produced by the topographic lifting of large-scale low-level airflow determine further cloud merging processes over the mountain region.

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Shichao Zhu, Xueliang Guo, Guangxian Lu, and Lijun Guo


Ice crystal habits and growth processes in two cases of stratiform clouds with embedded convection are investigated using data observed simultaneously from three aircraft on 18 April 2009 and 1 May 2009 as part of the Beijing Cloud Experiment (BCE). The results show that the majority of ice crystal habits found in the two cases at temperatures between 0° and −16°C included platelike, needle column, capped column, dendrite, and irregular. A mixture of several ice crystal habits was identified in all of the clouds studied. However, the ice crystals recorded in the embedded convection regions contained more dendrites and possessed heavier riming degrees, and the ice crystals identified in the stratiform clouds contained more hexagonal plate crystals. Both riming and aggregation processes played central roles in the broadening of particle size distributions (PSDs), and these processes were more active in embedded convection regions than in stratiform regions. However, riming was more prevalent in the 18 April case than aggregation, though aggregates were evident. In contrast, the 1 May case had a more dominant aggregation processes, but also riming. With the decrease in height, PSDs broadened in both embedded convection regions and stratiform regions, but the broadening rates between 4.8 km (T ≈ −11.6°C) and 4.2 km (T ≈ −8°C) were larger than those between 4.2 km (T ≈ −8°C) and 3.6 km (T ≈ −5°C). In addition, the broadening rates of PSDs in the embedded convection regions were larger than those in the stratiform clouds, as the aggregation and riming processes of ice particles in embedded convection regions were active. High supercooled water content is critical to enhancing riming and aggregation processes in embedded convection regions.

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