UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Life Cycle of Numerically Simulated Shallow Cumulus Clouds. Part I: Transport Zhao, Ming; Austin, Philip H.


This paper is the first in a two-part series in which the life cycles of numerically simulated shallow cumulus clouds are systematically examined. The life cycle data for six clouds with a range of cloud-top heights are isolated from an equilibrium trade cumulus field generated by a large-eddy simulation (LES) with a uniform resolution of 25 m. A passive subcloud tracer is used to partition the cloud life cycle transport into saturated and unsaturated components; the tracer shows that on average cumulus convection occurs in a region with time-integrated volume roughly 2 to 3 times that of the liquid-water-containing volume. All six clouds exhibit qualitatively similar vertical mass flux profiles with net downward mass transport at upper levels and net upward mass flux at lower levels. This downward mass flux comes primarily from the unsaturated cloud-mixed convective region during the dissipation stage and is evaporatively driven. Unsaturated negatively buoyant cloud mixtures dominate the buoyancy and mass fluxes in the upper portion of all clouds while saturated positively buoyant cloud mixtures dominate the fluxes at lower levels. Small and large clouds have distinct vertical profiles of heating/cooling and drying/moistening, with small clouds cooling and moistening throughout their depth, while larger clouds cool and moisten at upper levels and heat and dry at lower levels. The simulation results are compared to the predictions of conceptual models commonly used in shallow cumulus parameterizations. 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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