Environmental sensitivities of shallow-cumulus dilution – Part 2: Vertical wind profile

Drueke, Sonja; Kirshbaum, Daniel J.; Kollias, Pavlos

This second part of a numerical study on shallow-cumulus dilution focuses on the sensitivity of cloud dilution to changes in the vertical wind profile. Insights are obtained through large-eddy simulations of maritime and continental cloud fields. In these simulations, the speed of the initially uniform geostrophic wind and the strength of geostrophic vertical wind shear in the cloud and subcloud layer are varied. Increases in the cloud-layer vertical wind shear (up to 9 inline-formula M1inlinescrollmathml unit normal m nobreak0.125em normal s - normal 1 0.125emnobreak normal km - normal 1 55pt13ptsvg-formulamathimgd20790a068ced51c0bc3d72cdfb304bc acp-21-14039-2021-ie00001.svg55pt13ptacp-21-14039-2021-ie00001.png ) lead to 40 inline-formula%–50 inline-formula% larger cloud-core dilution rates compared to their respective unsheared counterparts. When the background wind speed, on the other hand, is enhanced by up to 10 inline-formulam s−1 and subcloud-layer vertical wind shear develops or is initially prescribed, the dilution rate decreases by up to 25 inline-formula%. The sensitivities of the dilution rate are linked to the updraft strength and the properties of the entrained air. Increases in the wind speed or vertical wind shear result in lower vertical velocities across all sets of experiments with stronger reductions in the cloud-layer wind shear simulation (27 inline-formula%–47 inline-formula%). Weaker updrafts are exposed to mixing with the drier surrounding air for a longer time period, allowing more entrainment to occur (i.e., the “core-exposure effect”). However, reduced vertical velocities, in concert with increased cloud-layer turbulence, also assist in widening the humid shell surrounding the cloud cores, leading to entrainment of more humid air (i.e., the “core–shell dilution effect”). In the experiments with cloud-layer vertical wind shear, the core-exposure effect dominates and the cloud-core dilution increases with increasing shear. Conversely, when the wind speed is increased and subcloud-layer vertical wind shear develops or is imposed, the core–shell dilution effect dominates to induce a buffering effect. The sensitivities are generally stronger in the maritime simulations, where weaker sensible heat fluxes lead to narrower, more tilted, and, therefore, more suppressed cumuli when cloud-layer shear is imposed. Moreover, in the experiments with subcloud wind shear, the weaker baseline turbulence in the maritime case allows for a larger turbulence enhancement, resulting in a widening of the transition zones between the cores and their environment, leading to the entrainment of more humid air.

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Drueke, Sonja / Kirshbaum, Daniel J. / Kollias, Pavlos: Environmental sensitivities of shallow-cumulus dilution – Part 2: Vertical wind profile. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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