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Hugh Morrison and Jason Milbrandt

Abstract

Idealized three-dimensional supercell simulations were performed using the two-moment bulk microphysics schemes of Morrison and Milbrandt––Yau in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Despite general similarities in these schemes, the simulations were found to produce distinct differences in storm structure, precipitation, and cold pool strength. In particular, the Morrison scheme produced much higher surface precipitation rates and a stronger cold pool, especially in the early stages of storm development. A series of sensitivity experiments was conducted to identify the primary differences between the two schemes that resulted in the large discrepancies in the simulations.

Different approaches in treating graupel and hail were found to be responsible for many of the key differences between the baseline simulations. The inclusion of hail in the baseline simulation using the Milbrant––Yau scheme with two rimed-ice categories (graupel and hail) had little impact, and therefore resulted in a much different storm than the baseline run with the single-category (hail) Morrison scheme. With graupel as the choice of the single rimed-ice category, the simulated storms had considerably more frozen condensate in the anvil region, a weaker cold pool, and reduced surface precipitation compared to the runs with only hail, whose higher terminal fall velocity inhibited lofting. The cold pool strength was also found to be sensitive to the parameterization of raindrop breakup, particularly for the Morrison scheme, because of the effects on the drop size distributions and the corresponding evaporative cooling rates. The use of a more aggressive implicit treatment of drop breakup in the baseline Morrison scheme, by limiting the mean––mass raindrop diameter to a maximum of 0.9 mm, opposed the tendency of this scheme to otherwise produce large mean drop sizes and a weaker cold pool compared to the hail-only run using the Milbrandt––Yau scheme.

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Hugh Morrison and Jason A. Milbrandt

Abstract

A method for the parameterization of ice-phase microphysics is proposed and used to develop a new bulk microphysics scheme. All ice-phase particles are represented by several physical properties that evolve freely in time and space. The scheme prognoses four ice mixing ratio variables, total mass, rime mass, rime volume, and number, allowing 4 degrees of freedom for representing the particle properties using a single category. This approach represents a significant departure from traditional microphysics schemes in which ice-phase hydrometeors are partitioned into various predefined categories (e.g., cloud ice, snow, and graupel) with prescribed characteristics. The liquid-phase component of the new scheme uses a standard two-moment, two-category approach.

The proposed method and a complete description of the new predicted particle properties (P3) scheme are provided. Results from idealized model simulations of a two-dimensional squall line are presented that illustrate overall behavior of the scheme. Despite its use of a single ice-phase category, the scheme simulates a realistically wide range of particle characteristics in different regions of the squall line, consistent with observed ice particles in real squall lines. Sensitivity tests show that both the prediction of the rime mass fraction and the rime density are important for the simulation of the squall-line structure and precipitation.

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Caroline Jouan and Jason A. Milbrandt

Abstract

Simulations of a well-observed squall line that occurred during the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E) were conducted using a mesoscale model with a horizontal grid spacing of 1 km to examine the importance of parameterized ice-phase processes to changes in concentrations of activated cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in a detailed two-moment bulk microphysics scheme. Numerical experiments showed that the simulated squall-line structure was sensitive to changes in activated CCN concentration not only from the direct impacts on cloud droplet sizes and autoconversion rates, but also because of changes in the growth rates and spatial distribution of ice-phase condensate. A microphysical budget analysis highlighted the importance of graupel in rain production and the sensitivity of graupel growth rates on changes to CCN concentrations. Sensitivity tests on the level of detail in the representation of graupel, specifically the treatment of its bulk density and the number of prognostic moments, indicated that changes in the reflectivity and precipitation structure of the simulated storm due to changes in CCN were sensitive to the graupel parameterization. The results suggest that the proper representation of graupel and possibly other ice-phase categories in microphysics schemes may be crucial for correctly simulating the effects of changes to CCN concentrations for continental deep convective systems.

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Jason A. Milbrandt and Hugh Morrison

Abstract

A method to predict the bulk density of graupel ρg has been added to the two-moment Milbrandt–Yau bulk microphysics scheme. The simulation of graupel using the modified scheme is illustrated through idealized simulations of a mesoscale convective system using a 2D kinematic model with a prescribed flow field and different peak updraft speeds. To examine the relative impact of the various approaches to represent rimed ice, simulations were run for various graupel-only and graupel-plus-hail configurations.

Because of the direct feedback of ρg to terminal fall speeds, the modified scheme produces a much different spatial distribution of graupel, with more mass concentrated in the convective region resulting in changes to the surface precipitation at all locations. With a strong updraft, the model can now produce solid precipitation at the surface in the convective region without a separate hail category. It is shown that a single rimed-ice category is capable of representing a realistically wide range of graupel characteristics in various atmospheric conditions without the need for a priori parameter settings.

Sensitivity tests were conducted to examine various aspects of the scheme that affect the simulated ρg. Specific parameterizations pertaining to other hydrometeor categories now have a direct impact on the simulation of graupel, including the assumed aerosol distribution for droplet nucleation, which affects the drop sizes of both cloud and rain, and the mass–size relation for snow, which affects its density and hence the embryo density of graupel converted from snow due to riming.

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Mélissa Cholette, Hugh Morrison, Jason A. Milbrandt, and Julie M. Thériault

Abstract

Bulk microphysics parameterizations that are used to represent clouds and precipitation usually allow only solid and liquid hydrometeors. Predicting the bulk liquid fraction on ice allows an explicit representation of mixed-phase particles and various precipitation types, such as wet snow and ice pellets. In this paper, an approach for the representation of the bulk liquid fraction into the predicted particle properties (P3) microphysics scheme is proposed and described. Solid-phase microphysical processes, such as melting and sublimation, have been modified to account for the liquid component. New processes, such as refreezing and condensation of the liquid portion of mixed-phase particles, have been added to the parameterization. Idealized simulations using a one-dimensional framework illustrate the overall behavior of the modified scheme. The proposed approach compares well to a Lagrangian benchmark model. Temperatures required for populations of ice crystals to melt completely also agree well with previous studies. The new processes of refreezing and condensation impact both the surface precipitation type and feedback between the temperature and the phase changes. Overall, prediction of the bulk liquid fraction allows an explicit description of new precipitation types, such as wet snow and ice pellets, and improves the representation of hydrometeor properties when the temperature is near 0°C.

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Mélissa Cholette, Julie M. Thériault, Jason A. Milbrandt, and Hugh Morrison

Abstract

A prognostic equation for the liquid fraction of mixed-phase particles has been recently added to the Predicted Particle Properties (P3) bulk microphysics scheme. Mixed-phase particles are necessary to simulate key microphysical processes leading to various winter precipitation types, such as ice pellets and freezing rain. To illustrate the impacts of predicting the bulk liquid fraction, the 1998 North American Ice Storm is simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model with the modified P3 scheme. It is found that simulating partial melting by predicting the bulk liquid fraction produces higher mass and number mixing ratios of rain. This leads to smaller rain sizes reaching the refreezing layer as well as a decrease in the freezing rain accumulation at the surface by up to 30% in some locations compared to when no liquid fraction is predicted. The increase in fall speed and density and decrease of particle diameter during partial melting combined with an improved representation of the refreezing process in the modified P3 leads to generally higher total solid surface precipitation rates than using the original P3 scheme. There is also an increase of solid precipitation in regions of ice pellet accumulation. Overall, the simulation of mixed-phase particles notably impacts the vertical and spatial distributions of precipitation properties.

Open access
Agnieszka Barszcz, Jason A. Milbrandt, and Julie M. Thériault

Abstract

A freezing rain event, in which the Meteorological Centre of Canada’s 2.5-km numerical weather prediction system significantly underpredicted the quantity of freezing rain, is examined. The prediction system models precipitation types explicitly, directly from the Milbrandt–Yau microphysics scheme. It was determined that the freezing rain underprediction for this case was due primarily to excessive refreezing of rain, originating from melting snow and graupel, in and under the temperature inversion of the advancing warm front ultimately depleting the supply of rain reaching the surface. The refreezing was caused from excessive collisional freezing between rain and graupel. Sensitivity experiments were conducted to examine the effects of a temperature threshold for collisional freezing and on varying the values of the collection efficiencies between rain and ice-phase hydrometeors. It was shown that by reducing the rain–graupel collection efficiency and by imposing a temperature threshold of −5°C, above which collisional freezing is not permitted, excessive rain–graupel collection and graupel formation can be controlled in the microphysics scheme, leading to an improved simulation of freezing rain at the surface.

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Jason A. Milbrandt, Hugh Morrison, Daniel T. Dawson II, and Marco Paukert

Abstract

In the original Predicted Particle Properties (P3) bulk microphysics scheme, all ice-phase hydrometeors are represented by one or more “free” ice categories, where the physical properties evolve smoothly through changes to the four prognostic variables (per category), and with a two-moment representation of the particle size distribution. As such, the spectral dispersion cannot evolve independently, which thus results in limitations in representation of ice—in particular, hail—due to necessary constraints in the scheme to prevent excessive gravitational size sorting. To overcome this, P3 has been modified to include a three-moment representation of the size distribution of each ice category through the addition of a fifth prognostic variable, the sixth moment of the size distribution. The details of the three-moment ice parameterization in P3 are provided. The behavior of the modified scheme, with the single-ice-category configuration, is illustrated through simulations in a simple 1D kinematic model framework as well as with near large-eddy-resolving (250-m grid spacing) 3D simulations of a hail-producing supercell. It is shown that the three-moment ice configuration controls size sorting in a physically based way and leads to an improved capacity to simulate large, heavily rimed ice (hail), including mean and maximum sizes and reflectivity, and thus an overall improvement in the representation of ice-phase particles in the P3 scheme.

Open access
Hugh Morrison, Jason A. Milbrandt, George H. Bryan, Kyoko Ikeda, Sarah A. Tessendorf, and Gregory Thompson

Abstract

A new microphysics scheme has been developed based on the prediction of bulk particle properties for a single ice-phase category, in contrast to the traditional approach of separating ice into various predefined species (e.g., cloud ice, snow, and graupel). In this paper, the new predicted particle properties (P3) scheme, described in Part I of this series, is tested in three-dimensional simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model for two contrasting well-observed cases: a midlatitude squall line and winter orographic precipitation. Results are also compared with simulations using other schemes in WRF. Simulations with P3 can produce a wide variety of particle characteristics despite having only one free ice-phase category. For the squall line, it produces dense, fast-falling, hail-like ice near convective updraft cores and lower-density, slower-falling ice elsewhere. Sensitivity tests show that this is critical for simulating high precipitation rates observed along the leading edge of the storm. In contrast, schemes that represent rimed ice as graupel, with lower fall speeds than hail, produce lower peak precipitation rates and wider, less distinct, and less realistic regions of high convective reflectivity. For the orographic precipitation case, P3 produces areas of relatively fast-falling ice with characteristics of rimed snow and low- to medium-density graupel on the windward slope. This leads to less precipitation on leeward slopes and more on windward slopes compared to the other schemes that produce large amounts of snow relative to graupel (with generally the opposite for schemes with significant graupel relative to snow). Overall, the new scheme produces reasonable results for a reduced computational cost.

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Ron McTaggart-Cowan, Thomas J. Galarneau Jr., Lance F. Bosart, and Jason A. Milbrandt

Abstract

The development and subsequent tropical transition of a subsynoptic-scale cyclone over the Gulf of Genoa (GoG) on 15 November 2007 led to the rapid onset of tropical storm-force winds near the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. This study evaluates the influence of two key ingredients on the cyclogenesis event: a near-surface warm potential temperature perturbation in the lee of the Alps and a mountain-scale potential vorticity (PV) banner.

A high-resolution modeling system is used to perform a set of attribution tests in which modifications to the Alpine orography control the presence of the cyclogenetic ingredients. When either feature exists in the initial state, a GoG cyclone develops even when the Alpine barrier is removed; however, when neither the warm perturbation nor the PV banner is present, there is insufficient lower-level PV to couple with the upper-level trough to promote cyclogenesis. A conceptual model involving the complimentary interaction of the two PV features is presented that accurately describes the development location of the cyclone beneath a midlevel vorticity maximum.

Despite development in most of the attribution tests, the energy sources for the cyclones vary widely and represent a spectrum of cyclogenetic pathways from baroclinically to convectively dominant. Removal of the Alpine barrier allows for a stronger thermal wave and a baroclinic mode of development, rather than the diabatically generated hurricane-like vortex seen in the control and available observations. Similarly, insufficient flow interaction with the low-resolution representation of the Alps in the global-driving model is shown to favor a baroclinic mode of cyclogenesis in that integration. Adequate resolution of both the Alpine terrain and the incipient cyclone itself are shown to be important to correctly predict the evolution of the system from both structural and energetic perspectives.

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