Observational validation of the compensating mass flux through the shell around cumulus clouds



The existence of a subsiding shell around cumulus clouds has been observed before in several aircraft measurement campaigns. Recent results from large-eddy simulations (LES) showed that the downward mass flux through the shell compensates for a significant fraction of the upward mass flux through the cloud. In this study, aeroplane measurements from the Rain In Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign are used to verify the existence of this compensating mass flux. Just as in the LES results, the in-shell downward mass flux is found to be significant. However, a few differences were found in comparison with the LES results; most of them were explained by taking into account the difference between the two-dimensional slabs in LES and the one-dimensional lines from aeroplane observations. Copyright © 2008 Royal Meteorological Society