Kinetic mass-transfer calculation of water isotope fractionation due to cloud microphysics in a regional meteorological model

Tsai, I-Chun; Chen, Wan-Yu; Chen, Jen-Ping; Liang, Mao-Chang

In conventional atmospheric models, isotope exchange between liquid, gas, and solid phases is usually assumed to be in equilibrium, and the highly kinetic phase transformation processes inferred in clouds are yet to be fully investigated. In this study, a two-moment microphysical scheme in the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model was modified to allow kinetic calculation of isotope fractionation due to various cloud microphysical phase-change processes. A case of a moving cold front is selected for quantifying the effect of different factors controlling isotopic composition, including water vapor sources, atmospheric transport, phase transition pathways of water in clouds, and kinetic-versus-equilibrium mass transfer. A base-run simulation was able to reproduce the inline-formula∼ 50 ‰ decrease in inline-formulaδD that was observed during the frontal passage. Sensitivity tests suggest that all the above factors contributed significantly to the variations in isotope composition. The thermal equilibrium assumption commonly used in earlier studies may cause an overestimate of mean vapor-phase inline-formulaδD by 11 ‰, and the maximum difference can be more than 20 ‰. Using initial vertical distribution and lower boundary conditions of water stable isotopes from satellite data is critical to obtain successful isotope simulations, without which the inline-formulaδD in water vapor can be off by about 34 ‰ and 28 ‰, respectively. Without microphysical fractionation, the inline-formulaδD in water vapor can be off by about 25 ‰.

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Tsai, I-Chun / Chen, Wan-Yu / Chen, Jen-Ping / et al: Kinetic mass-transfer calculation of water isotope fractionation due to cloud microphysics in a regional meteorological model. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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