The Relationship between Drop In-Cloud Residence Time and Drizzle Production in Numerically Simulated Stratocumulus Clouds

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

This paper considers the production of drizzle in statocumulus clouds in relation to the boundary-layer turbulent kinetic energy and in-cloud residence times. It is shown that drizzle production in statocumulus of the order of 400 m in depth is intimately related to the vertical velocity structure of the cloud eddies. In a series of two dimensional numerical experiments with fixed cloud condensation nucleus concentrations, the effect on drizzle production of enhanced or diminished vertical velocities is simulated. Rather than do this by simulating clouds exhibiting more or less energy, we modify drop terminal velocities in a manner that conserves the fall velocity relative to the air motions and allows droplet growth to occur in a similar dynamical environment. The results suggest that more vigorous clouds produce more drizzle because they enable longer in-cloud dwell times and therefore prolonged collision-coalescence. In weaker clouds, droplets tend to fall out of the cloud before they have achieved significant size, resulting in smaller amounts of drizzle. In another series of experiments, we investigate the effects of the feedback of drizzle on the boundary-layer dynamics. Results show that when significant amounts of drizzle reach the surface, the subcloud layer is stabilized, circulations are weaker, and the boundary layer is not well mixed. When only small amounts of drizzle are produced, cooling tends to be confined to the region just below cloud base, resulting in destabilization, more vigorous circulations, and a better mixed boundary layer. The results strongly suggest that a characteristic time associated with collision-coalescence be incorporated into drizzle parameterizations.

Abstract

This paper considers the production of drizzle in statocumulus clouds in relation to the boundary-layer turbulent kinetic energy and in-cloud residence times. It is shown that drizzle production in statocumulus of the order of 400 m in depth is intimately related to the vertical velocity structure of the cloud eddies. In a series of two dimensional numerical experiments with fixed cloud condensation nucleus concentrations, the effect on drizzle production of enhanced or diminished vertical velocities is simulated. Rather than do this by simulating clouds exhibiting more or less energy, we modify drop terminal velocities in a manner that conserves the fall velocity relative to the air motions and allows droplet growth to occur in a similar dynamical environment. The results suggest that more vigorous clouds produce more drizzle because they enable longer in-cloud dwell times and therefore prolonged collision-coalescence. In weaker clouds, droplets tend to fall out of the cloud before they have achieved significant size, resulting in smaller amounts of drizzle. In another series of experiments, we investigate the effects of the feedback of drizzle on the boundary-layer dynamics. Results show that when significant amounts of drizzle reach the surface, the subcloud layer is stabilized, circulations are weaker, and the boundary layer is not well mixed. When only small amounts of drizzle are produced, cooling tends to be confined to the region just below cloud base, resulting in destabilization, more vigorous circulations, and a better mixed boundary layer. The results strongly suggest that a characteristic time associated with collision-coalescence be incorporated into drizzle parameterizations.

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