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Susan C. van den Heever and William R. Cotton

Abstract

Variations in storm microstructure due to updraft strength, liquid water content, and the presence of dry layers, wind shear, and cloud nucleating aerosol concentrations are likely to lead to changes in hail sizes within deep convective storms. The focus of this paper is to determine how the overall dynamics and microphysical structure of deep convective storms are affected if hail sizes are somehow altered in a storm environment that is otherwise the same. The sensitivity of simulated supercell storms to hail size distributions is investigated by systematically varying the mean hail diameter from 3 mm to 1 cm using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) model. Increasing the mean hail diameter results in a hail size distribution in which the number concentration of smaller hailstones is decreased, while that of the larger hailstones is increased. This shift in the hail size distribution as a result of increasing the mean hail diameter leads to an increase in the mean terminal fall speed of the hail species and to reduced melting and evaporation rates. The sensitivity simulations demonstrate that the low-level downdrafts are stronger, the cold pools are deeper and more intense, the left-moving updraft is shorter-lived, the right-moving storm is stronger but not as steady, and the low-level vertical vorticity is greater in the cases with smaller hail stones. The maximum hail mixing ratios are greater in the larger hail simulations, but they are located higher in the storm and farther away from the updraft core in the smaller hail runs. Changes in the hail size distribution also appear to influence the type of supercell that develops.

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Rachel L. Storer and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

This study investigates the effects of aerosols on tropical deep convective clouds (DCCs). A series of large-scale, two-dimensional cloud-resolving model simulations was completed, differing only in the concentration of aerosols available to act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Polluted simulations contained more DCCs, wider storms, higher cloud tops, and more convective precipitation domainwide. Differences in warm cloud microphysics were largely consistent with the first and second aerosol indirect effects. The average surface precipitation produced in each DCC column decreased with increasing aerosol concentration. A detailed microphysical budget analysis showed that the reduction in collision and coalescence largely dominated the trend in average precipitation. The production of rain from ice, though it also decreased, became a more important contribution to precipitation as the aerosol concentration increased. The DCCs in polluted simulations contained more frequent extreme values of vertical velocity, but the average updraft speed decreased with increasing aerosols in DCCs above 6 km. An examination of the buoyancy term of the vertical velocity equation demonstrates that the drag associated with condensate loading is an important factor in determining the average updraft strength. The largest contributions to latent heating in DCCs were cloud nucleation and vapor deposition onto water and ice, but changes in latent heating were, on average, an order of magnitude smaller than those in the condensate loading term. The average updraft speed was largely affected by increased drag from condensate loading in more mature updrafts, while early storm updrafts experienced convective invigoration from increased latent heating.

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Clayton J. McGee and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Recent studies have noted the role of latent heating above the freezing level in reconciling Riehl and Malkus' hot tower hypothesis (HTH) with evidence of diluted tropical deep convective cores. This study evaluates recent modifications to the HTH through Lagrangian trajectory analysis of deep convective cores in an idealized, high-resolution cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation that uses a sophisticated two-moment microphysical scheme. A line of tropical convective cells develops within a finer nested grid whose boundary conditions are obtained from a large-domain CRM simulation approaching radiative convective equilibrium (RCE). Microphysical impacts on latent heating and equivalent potential temperature (θ e) are analyzed along trajectories ascending within convective regions of the high-resolution nested grid. Changes in θ e along backward trajectories are partitioned into contributions from latent heating due to ice processes and a residual term that is shown to be an approximate representation of mixing. The simulations demonstrate that mixing with dry environmental air decreases θ e along ascending trajectories below the freezing level, while latent heating due to freezing and vapor deposition increase θ e above the freezing level. Latent heating contributions along trajectories from cloud nucleation, condensation, evaporation, freezing, deposition, and sublimation are also quantified. Finally, the source regions of trajectories reaching the upper troposphere are identified. Much of the air ascending within convective updrafts originates from above the lowest 2 km AGL, but the strongest updrafts are composed of air from closer to the surface. The importance of both boundary layer and midlevel inflow in moist environments is underscored in this study.

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Robert B. Seigel and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Many studies have demonstrated the intimate connection between microphysics and deep moist convection, especially for squall lines via cold pool pathways. The present study examines four numerically simulated idealized squall lines using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) and includes a control simulation that uses full two-moment microphysics and three sensitivity experiments that vary the mean diameter of the hail hydrometeor size distribution. Results suggest that a circulation centered at the freezing level supports midlevel convective updraft invigoration through increased latent heating. The circulation begins with hail hydrometeors that initiate within the convective updraft above the freezing level and are then ejected upshear because of the front-to-rear flow of the squall line. As the hail falls below the freezing level, the rear-inflow jet (RIJ) advects the hail hydrometeors downshear and into the upshear flank of the midlevel convective updraft. Because the advection occurs below the freezing level, some of the hail melts and sheds raindrops. The addition of hail and rain to the updraft increases latent heating owing to both an enhancement in riming and vapor deposition onto hail and rain. The increase in latent heating enhances buoyancy within the updraft, which leads to an increase in precipitation and cold pool intensity that promote a positive feedback on squall-line strength. The upshear-tilted simulated squall lines in this study indicate that as hail size is decreased, squall lines are invigorated through the recirculation mechanism.

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Robert B. Seigel and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Recent research pertaining to aerosol impacts on cloud microphysics has shown a need for understanding mineral dust entrainment into moist convection. The goal of this study is to examine the pathways in which nonmicrophysically active mineral dust is entrained into supercell storms within three commonly observed dust regimes. The Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) with an interactive dust model that allows for surface emission was used to achieve this goal.

First, a supercell is simulated within an already dusty environment (EXP-BACKGROUND) to investigate ingestion purely from a background source. Second, the supercell is simulated within a clean background environment and lofts its own dust via the interactive dust model (EXP-STORM) to investigate the regime in which the only source of dust in the atmosphere is due to the storm itself. Finally, the supercell is simulated with a low-level convergence boundary introduced ahead of the supercell to investigate dust lofting by outflow boundary interactions (EXP-BOUNDARY). Results indicate that the supercell in EXP-BACKGROUND ingests large dust concentrations ahead of the rear flank downdraft (RFD) cold pool. Conversely, dust lofted by the cold pool in EXP-STORM is ingested by the supercell in relatively small amounts via a narrow corridor generated by turbulent mixing of the RFD cold pool and ambient air. The addition of a convergence boundary in EXP-BOUNDARY is found to act as an additional source of dust for the supercell. Results demonstrate the importance of an appropriate dust representation for numerical modeling.

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Adele L. Igel and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

In this two-part study, relationships between the cloud gamma size distribution shape parameter, microphysical processes, and cloud characteristics of nonprecipitating shallow cumulus clouds are investigated using large-eddy simulations. In Part I, the dependence of the shape parameter (which is closely related to the distribution width) on cloud properties and processes was investigated. However, the distribution width also impacts cloud process rates and in turn cloud properties, and it is this aspect of the relationship that is explored in Part II and is discussed in the context of aerosol–cloud interactions. In simulations with a bulk microphysics scheme, it is found that the evaporation rates are much more sensitive to the value of the shape parameter than to the condensation rates. This is due to changes in both the rate of removal of mass and the rate of removal of fully evaporated droplets. As a result, cloud properties such as droplet number concentration, mean droplet diameter, and cloud fraction are strongly impacted by the value of the shape parameter, particularly in the subsaturated regions of the clouds. These changes can be on the same order of magnitude as changes due to increasing or decreasing the aerosol concentration by a factor of 16. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the shape parameter on cloud albedo. The cloud albedo increases as the shape parameter is increased as a result of the changes in evaporation. The magnitude of the increase is about 4 times larger than previous estimates. However, this increase in cloud albedo is largely offset by a decrease in the cloud fraction, which results in only small increases to the domain-average albedo. Implications for the aerosol relative dispersion effect are discussed.

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Yasutaka Murakami, Christian D. Kummerow, and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Precipitation processes play a critical role in the longevity and spatial distribution of stratocumulus clouds through their interaction with the vertical profiles of humidity and temperature within the atmospheric boundary layer. One of the difficulties in understanding these processes is the limited amount of observational data. In this study, robust relations among liquid water path (LWP), cloud droplet number concentration (N d), and cloud-base rain rate (R cb) from three subtropical stratocumulus decks are obtained from A-Train satellite observations in order to obtain a broad perspective on warm rain processes. The cloud-base rain rate R cb has a positive correlation with LWP/N d, and the increase of R cb becomes larger as LWP/N d increases. However, the increase of R cb with respect to LWP/N d becomes more gradual in regions with larger N d, which indicates the relation is moderated by N d. These results are consistent with our theoretical understanding of warm rain processes and suggest that satellite observations are capable of elucidating the average manner of how precipitation processes are modulated by LWP and N d. The sensitivity of the autoconversion rate to N d is investigated by examining pixels with small LWP in which the accretion process is assumed to have little influence on R cb. The upper limit of the dependency of autoconversion rate on N d is assessed from the relation between R cb and N d , since the sensitivity is exaggerated by the accretion process, and was found to be a cloud droplet number concentration to the power of −1.44 ± 0.12.

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Leah D. Grant and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

The relative sensitivity of midlatitude deep convective precipitation to aerosols and midlevel dry layers has been investigated in this study using high-resolution cloud-resolving model simulations. Nine simulations, including combinations of three moisture profiles and three aerosol number concentration profiles, were performed. Because of the veering wind profile of the initial sounding, the convection splits into a left-moving storm that is multicellular in nature and a right-moving storm, a supercell, which are analyzed separately.

The results demonstrate that while changes to the moisture profile always induce larger changes in precipitation than do variations in aerosol concentrations, multicells are sensitive to aerosol perturbations whereas supercells are less so. The multicellular precipitation sensitivity arises through aerosol impacts on the cold pool forcing. It is shown that the altitude of the dry layer influences whether cold pools are stronger or weaker and hence whether precipitation increases or decreases with increasing aerosol concentrations. When the dry-layer altitude is located near cloud base, cloud droplet evaporation rates and hence latent cooling rates are greater with higher aerosol loading, which results in stronger low-level downdrafts and cold pools. However, when the dry-layer altitude is located higher above cloud base, the low-level downdrafts and cold pools are weaker with higher aerosol loading because of reduced raindrop evaporation rates. The changes to the cold pool strength initiate positive feedbacks that further modify the cold pool strength and subsequent precipitation totals. Aerosol impacts on deep convection are therefore found to be modulated by the altitude of the dry layer and to vary inversely with the storm organization.

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Robert B. Seigel and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

The goal of this research is to investigate the impacts of a stably stratified layer embedded within a neutrally stratified environment on the behavior of density currents in an effort to extend the environmental regimes examined by Liu and Moncrieff. Such environments frequently support severe weather events. To accomplish this goal, nonhydrostatic numerical model experiments are performed in which the strength and height of the embedded stably stratified layer within a neutrally stratified environment are varied. The 1-km-deep stable layer base is varied between 1, 2, and 3 km AGL. Additionally, the strength of the stable layer is systematically varied between Brunt–Väisälä frequencies of 0.006, 0.012, and 0.018 s−1, following the methodology of Liu and Moncrieff. The model and grid setup are also similar to that of Liu and Moncrieff, utilizing the Arakawa C grid, leapfrog advection, a Robert–Asselin filter, and grid spacing of 100 and 50 m in the horizontal and vertical directions, respectively. Results show that the height of the density current decreases and the propagation speed increases with stronger and lower stable layers, provided that the stable layer is sufficiently thin so as to not act as a gravity wave ducting layer. As the strength of the stable layer increases and the height of this layer decreases, the horizontal pressure gradient driving the density current increases, resulting in faster propagation speeds. Such results have implications for cold pool propagation into more stable environments.

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Yasutaka Murakami, Christian D. Kummerow, and Susan C. van den Heever

Abstract

Precipitation processes play a critical role in the longevity and spatial distribution of stratocumulus clouds through their interaction with the vertical profiles of humidity and temperature within the atmospheric boundary layer. One of the difficulties in understanding these processes is the limited amount of observational data. In this study, robust relations among liquid water path (LWP), cloud droplet number concentration (Nd) and cloud base rain rate (Rcb) from three subtropical stratocumulus decks are obtained from A-Train satellite observations in order to obtain a broad perspective on warm rain processes. Rcb has a positive correlation with LWP/Nd and the increase of Rcb becomes larger as LWP/Nd increases. However, the increase of Rcb with respect to LWP/Nd becomes more gradual in regions with larger Nd, which indicates the relation is moderated by Nd. These results are consistent with our theoretical understanding of warm rain processes and suggest that satellite observations are capable of elucidating the average manner of how precipitation processes are modulated by LWP and Nd. The sensitivity of the auto-conversion rate to Nd is investigated by examining pixels with small LWP in which the accretion process is assumed to have little influence on Rcb. The upper limit of the dependency of auto-conversion rate on Nd is assessed from the relation between Rcb and Nd, since the sensitivity is exaggerated by the accretion process, and was found to be a cloud droplet number concentration to the power of −1.44 ± 0.12.

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