Simulation of convective moistening of the extratropical lower stratosphere using a numerical weather prediction model

Qu, Zhipeng; Huang, Yi; Vaillancourt, Paul A.; Cole, Jason N. S.; Milbrandt, Jason A.; Yau, Man-Kong; Walker, Kaley; de Grandpré, Jean

Stratospheric water vapour (SWV) is a climatically important atmospheric constituent due to its impacts on the radiation budget and atmospheric chemical composition. Despite the important role of SWV in the climate system, the processes controlling the distribution and variation in water vapour in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) are not well understood. In order to better understand the mechanism of transport of water vapour through the tropopause, this study uses the high-resolution Global Environmental Multiscale model of the Environment and Climate Change Canada to simulate a lower stratosphere moistening event over North America. Satellite remote sensing and aircraft in situ observations are used to evaluate the quality of model simulation. The main focus of this study is to evaluate the processes that influence the lower stratosphere water vapour budget, particularly the direct water vapour transport and the moistening due to the ice sublimation. In the high-resolution simulations with horizontal grid spacing of less than 2.5 km, it is found that the main contribution to lower stratospheric moistening is the upward transport caused by the breaking of gravity waves. In contrast, for the lower-resolution simulation with horizontal grid spacing of 10 km, the lower stratospheric moistening is dominated by the sublimation of ice. In comparison with the aircraft in situ observations, the high-resolution simulations predict the water vapour content in the UTLS well, while the lower-resolution simulation overestimates the water vapour content. This overestimation is associated with the overly abundant ice in the UTLS along with a sublimation rate that is too high in the lower stratosphere. The results of this study affirm the strong influence of overshooting convection on the lower stratospheric water vapour and highlight the importance of both dynamics and microphysics in simulating the water vapour distribution in the UTLS region.

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Qu, Zhipeng / Huang, Yi / Vaillancourt, Paul A. / et al: Simulation of convective moistening of the extratropical lower stratosphere using a numerical weather prediction model. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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