Using Doppler radar with a simple explicit microphysics model to diagnose problems with ice sublimation depth-scales in forecast models
Wilkinson, J. M., Hogan, R. J. and Illingworth, A. J. (2010) Using Doppler radar with a simple explicit microphysics model to diagnose problems with ice sublimation depth-scales in forecast models. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 136 (653). pp. 2094-2108. ISSN 1477-870X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/qj.698
Several previous studies have attempted to assess the sublimation depth-scales of ice particles from clouds into clear air. Upon examining the sublimation depth-scales in the Met Office Unified Model (MetUM), it was found that the MetUM has evaporation depth-scales 2–3 times larger than radar observations. Similar results can be seen in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO) and Météo-France models. In this study, we use radar simulation (converting model variables into radar observations) and one-dimensional explicit microphysics numerical modelling to test and diagnose the cause of the deep sublimation depth-scales in the forecast model. The MetUM data and parametrization scheme are used to predict terminal velocity, which can be compared with the observed Doppler velocity. This can then be used to test the hypothesis as to why the sublimation depth-scale is too large within the MetUM. Turbulence could lead to dry air entrainment and higher evaporation rates; particle density may be wrong, particle capacitance may be too high and lead to incorrect evaporation rates or the humidity within the sublimating layer may be incorrectly represented. We show that the most likely cause of deep sublimation zones is an incorrect representation of model humidity in the layer. This is tested further by using a one-dimensional explicit microphysics model, which tests the sensitivity of ice sublimation to key atmospheric variables and is capable of including sonde and radar measurements to simulate real cases. Results suggest that the MetUM grid resolution at ice cloud altitudes is not sufficient enough to maintain the sharp drop in humidity that is observed in the sublimation zone.