An investigation of cold cloud formation with a three-dimensional model with explicit microphysics

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Abstract

[1] In the framework of the European Union-funded project “Investigation of Cloud by Ground-based and Airborne Radar and Lidar” (CARL) the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) was used in order to study ice crystal formation and evolution in a cold cloud formation during a field program over Palaiseau, France. Sensitivity tests were performed so as to bind the uncertainty from various factors controlling model results. Emphasis is given to the sensitivity of the model with respect to the shape parameter of gamma distribution in the cloud microphysics module. Sensitivity analysis of the model was also performed in relation to the initialization of the simulation. The results are compared to in situ and remote sensing observations of the cloud formation. The analysis revealed that the model was able to reproduce the cloud characteristics (e.g., the spatial and temporal variability of the phenomena and the cloud geometry) in a satisfactory way. A detailed comparison of the model results with aircraft data showed that the model-calculated water content and number concentration deviate significantly for the small-size particle bin (2–47 microns) but are in good agreement for the medium- (25–800 microns) and large-size (200–6400 microns) bins. The differences for the smaller particles can partially be attributed to both poor performance of the microphysical algorithms and instrument inaccuracies. Some differences for the larger particles can be attributed either to the definition of the cloud boundaries by the model or to disturbances caused by the ascent path of the aircraft or both. The time of model initialization is also an important factor affecting cloud formation during the first few hours of the simulation. The performed simulations and model/data intercomparisons showed that RAMS is able to reproduce most of the microphysical parameters of cold cloud formations satisfactorily while utilizing conventional meteorological fields and observations for initial and boundary conditions.

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