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Evaluation of a large-eddy model simulation of a mixed-phase altocumulus cloud using microwave radiometer, lidar and Doppler radar data

Marsham, J. H., Dobbie, S. and Hogan, R. J. (2006) Evaluation of a large-eddy model simulation of a mixed-phase altocumulus cloud using microwave radiometer, lidar and Doppler radar data. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 132 (618). pp. 1693-1715. ISSN 1477-870X

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Using the Met Office large-eddy model (LEM) we simulate a mixed-phase altocumulus cloud that was observed from Chilbolton in southern England by a 94 GHz Doppler radar, a 905 nm lidar, a dual-wavelength microwave radiometer and also by four radiosondes. It is important to test and evaluate such simulations with observations, since there are significant differences between results from different cloud-resolving models for ice clouds. Simulating the Doppler radar and lidar data within the LEM allows us to compare observed and modelled quantities directly, and allows us to explore the relationships between observed and unobserved variables. For general-circulation models, which currently tend to give poor representations of mixed-phase clouds, the case shows the importance of using: (i) separate prognostic ice and liquid water, (ii) a vertical resolution that captures the thin layers of liquid water, and (iii) an accurate representation the subgrid vertical velocities that allow liquid water to form. It is shown that large-scale ascents and descents are significant for this case, and so the horizontally averaged LEM profiles are relaxed towards observed profiles to account for these. The LEM simulation then gives a reasonable. cloud, with an ice-water path approximately two thirds of that observed, with liquid water at the cloud top, as observed. However, the liquid-water cells that form in the updraughts at cloud top in the LEM have liquid-water paths (LWPs) up to half those observed, and there are too few cells, giving a mean LWP five to ten times smaller than observed. In reality, ice nucleation and fallout may deplete ice-nuclei concentrations at the cloud top, allowing more liquid water to form there, but this process is not represented in the model. Decreasing the heterogeneous nucleation rate in the LEM increased the LWP, which supports this hypothesis. The LEM captures the increase in the standard deviation in Doppler velocities (and so vertical winds) with height, but values are 1.5 to 4 times smaller than observed (although values are larger in an unforced model run, this only increases the modelled LWP by a factor of approximately two). The LEM data show that, for values larger than approximately 12 cm s(-1), the standard deviation in Doppler velocities provides an almost unbiased estimate of the standard deviation in vertical winds, but provides an overestimate for smaller values. Time-smoothing the observed Doppler velocities and modelled mass-squared-weighted fallspeeds shows that observed fallspeeds are approximately two-thirds of the modelled values. Decreasing the modelled fallspeeds to those observed increases the modelled IWC, giving an IWP 1.6 times that observed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:5203
Additional Information:Part A
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society

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