Effects of prescribed initial cloud droplet spectra on convective cloud and precipitation developments under different thermodynamic conditions: A modeling and observational study

Hee Jung Yang, Seong Soo Yum

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A two-dimensional cloud model with bin microphysics was used to investigate the effects of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations and thermodynamic conditions on convective cloud and precipitation developments. Two different initial cloud droplet spectra were prescribed based on the total CCN concentrations of maritime (300 cm- 3) and continental (1000 cm- 3) air masses, and the model was run on eight thermodynamic conditions obtained from observational soundings. Six-hourly sounding data and 1-hourly precipitation data from two nearby weather stations in Korea were analyzed for the year 2002 to provide some observational support for the model results. For one small Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) (∼ 300 J kg- 1) sounding, the maritime and continental differences were incomparably large. The crucial difference was the production of ice phase hydrometeors in the maritime cloud and only water drops in the continental cloud. Ice phase hydrometeors and intrinsically large cloud drops of the maritime cloud eventually lead to significant precipitation. Meanwhile negligible precipitation developed from the continental cloud. For the three other small CAPE soundings, generally weak convective clouds developed but the maritime and continental clouds were of the same phases (both warm or both cold) and their differences were relatively small. Model runs with the four large CAPE (∼ 3000 J kg- 1) soundings demonstrated that the depth between the freezing level (FL) and the lifting condensation level (LCL) was crucial to determine whether a cloud becomes a cold cloud or not, which in turn was found to be a crucial factor to enhance cloud invigoration with the additional supply of freezing latent heat. For two large CAPE soundings, FL-LCL was so deep that penetration of FL was prohibitive, and precipitation was only mild in the maritime clouds and negligible in the continental clouds. Two other soundings of similarly large CAPE had small FL-LCL, and both the maritime and continental clouds became cold clouds. Precipitation was strong for both but much more so in the maritime clouds, while the maximum updraft velocity and the cloud top were slightly higher in continental clouds. Although limited to small CAPE cases, more precipitation for smaller FL-LCL for a selected group of precipitation and thermodynamic sounding data from Korea was in support of these model results in its tendency. These results clearly demonstrated that the CCN effects on cloud and precipitation developments critically depended on the given thermodynamic conditions and not just the CAPE but the entire structure of the thermodynamic profiles had to be taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-224
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under Grant CATER 2006-2307.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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