Measuring shallow convective mass flux profiles in the trade wind region

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  • 1 1 Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg, Germany
  • | 2 2 Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • | 3 3 Now at Leipziger Institut für Meteorologie (LIM), Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
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Abstract

Mass flux is a key quantity in parameterizations of shallow convection. To estimate the shallow convective mass flux as accurately as possible, and to test these parameterizations, observations of this parameter are necessary. In this study, we show how much the mass flux varies and how this can be used to test factors that may be responsible for its variation. Therefore, we analyze long term Doppler radar and Doppler lidar measurements at the Barbados Cloud Observatory over a time period of 30 months, which results in a mean mass flux profile with a peak value of 0.03 kg m−2 s−1 at an altitude of ~730 m, similar to observations from Ghate et al. (2011) at the Azores Islands. By combining Doppler radar and Doppler lidar measurements, we find that the cloud base mass flux depends mainly on the cloud fraction and refutes an idea based on large eddy simulations, that the velocity scale is in major control of the shallow cumulus mass flux. This indicates that the large scale conditions might play a more important role than what one would deduce from simulations using prescribed large-scale forcings.

Corresponding author address: Leipziger Institut für Meteorologie, Universität Leipzig, Stephanstr. 3, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail: marcus.klingebiel@uni-leipzig.de

Abstract

Mass flux is a key quantity in parameterizations of shallow convection. To estimate the shallow convective mass flux as accurately as possible, and to test these parameterizations, observations of this parameter are necessary. In this study, we show how much the mass flux varies and how this can be used to test factors that may be responsible for its variation. Therefore, we analyze long term Doppler radar and Doppler lidar measurements at the Barbados Cloud Observatory over a time period of 30 months, which results in a mean mass flux profile with a peak value of 0.03 kg m−2 s−1 at an altitude of ~730 m, similar to observations from Ghate et al. (2011) at the Azores Islands. By combining Doppler radar and Doppler lidar measurements, we find that the cloud base mass flux depends mainly on the cloud fraction and refutes an idea based on large eddy simulations, that the velocity scale is in major control of the shallow cumulus mass flux. This indicates that the large scale conditions might play a more important role than what one would deduce from simulations using prescribed large-scale forcings.

Corresponding author address: Leipziger Institut für Meteorologie, Universität Leipzig, Stephanstr. 3, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail: marcus.klingebiel@uni-leipzig.de
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