UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Life Cycle of Numerically Simulated Shallow Cumulus Clouds. Part II: Mixing Dynamics Zhao, Ming; Austin, Philip H.


This paper is the second in a two-part series in which life cycles of six numerically simulated shallow cumulus clouds are systematically examined. The six clouds, selected from a single realization of a large-eddy simulation, grow as a series of pulses/thermals detached from the subcloud layer. All six clouds exhibit a coherent vortical circulation and a low buoyancy, low velocity trailing wake. The ascending cloud top (ACT), which contains this vortical circulation, is associated with a dynamic perturbation pressure field with high pressure located at the ascending frontal cap and low pressure below and on the downshear side of the maximum updrafts. Examination of the thermodynamic and kinematic structure, together with passive tracer experiments, suggests that this vortical circulation is primarily responsible for mixing between cloud and environment. As the cloud ACTs rise through the sheared environment, the low pressure, vortical circulation, and mixing are all strongly enhanced on the downshear side and weakened on the upshear side. Collapse of the ACT also occurs on the downshear side, with subsequent thermals ascending on the upshear side of their predecessors. The coherent core structure is maintained throughout the ACT ascent; mixing begins to gradually dilute the ACT core only in the upper half of the cloud's depth. The characteristic kinematic and dynamic structure of these simulated ACTs, together with their mixing behavior, corresponds closely to that of shedding thermals. These shallow simulated clouds, however, reach a maximum height of only about four ACT diameters so that ACT mixing differs from predictions of self-similar laboratory thermals. Copyright 2005 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at (http://www.ametsoc.org/) or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or copyright@ametsoc.org.

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