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Idealized cloud-system resolving modeling for tropical convection studies

Anber, Usama Mostafa

A three-dimensional limited-domain Cloud-Resolving Model (CRM) is used in idealized settings to study the interaction between tropical convection and the large scale dynamics. The model domain is doubly periodic and the large-scale circulation is parameterized using the Weak Temperature Gradient (WTG) Approximation and Damped Gravity Wave (DGW) methods. The model simulations fall into two main categories: simulations with a prescribed radiative cooling profile, and others in which radiative cooling profile interacts with clouds and water vapor.
For experiments with a prescribed radiative cooling profile, radiative heating is taken constant in the vertical in the troposphere. First, the effect of turbulent surface fluxes and radiative cooling on tropical deep convection is studied. In the precipitating equilibria, an increment in surface fluxes produces a greater increase in precipitation than an equal increment in column-integrated radiative heating. The gross moist stability remains close to constant over a wide range of forcings.
With dry initial conditions, the system exhibits hysteresis, and maintains a dry state with for a wide range of net energy inputs to the atmospheric column under WTG. However, for the same forcings the system admits a rainy state when initialized with moist conditions, and thus multiple equilibria exist under WTG. When the net forcing is increased enough that simulations, which begin dry, eventually develop precipitation. DGW, on the other hand, does not have the tendency to develop multiple equilibria under the same conditions.
The effect of vertical wind shear on tropical deep convection is also studied. The strength and depth of the shear layer are varied as control parameters. Surface fluxes are prescribed. For weak wind shear, time-averaged rainfall decreases with shear and convection remains disorganized. For larger wind shear, rainfall increases with shear, as convection becomes organized into linear mesoscale systems. This non-monotonic dependence of rainfall on shear is observed when the imposed surface fluxes are moderate. For larger surface fluxes, convection in the unsheared basic state is already strongly organized, but increasing wind shear still leads to increasing rainfall. In addition to surface rainfall, the impacts of shear on the parameterized large-scale vertical velocity, convective mass fluxes, cloud fraction, and momentum transport are also discussed.
For experiments with interactive radiative cooling profile, the effect of cloud- radiation interaction on cumulus ensemble is examined in sheared and unsheared environments with both fixed and interactive sea surface temperature (SST). For fixed SST, interactive radiation, when compared to simulations in which radiative profile has the same magnitude and vertical shape but does not interact with clouds or water vapor, is found to suppress mean precipitation by inducing strong descent in the lower troposphere, increasing the gross moist stability.
For interactive SST, using a slab ocean mixed layer, there exists a shear strength above which the system becomes unstable and develops oscillatory behavior. Oscillations have periods of wet precipitating states followed by periods of dry non-precipitating states. The frequencies of oscillations are intraseasonal to subseasonal, depending on the mixed layer depth.
Finally, the model is coupled to a land surface model with fully interactive radiation and surface fluxes to study the diurnal and seasonal radiation and water cycles in the Amazon basin. The model successfully captures the afternoon precipitation and cloud cover peak and the greater latent heat flux in the dry season for the first time; two major biases in GCMs with implications for correct estimates of evaporation and gross primary production in the Amazon. One of the key findings is that the fog layer near the surface in the west season is crucial for determining the surface energy budget and precipitation. This suggests that features on the diurnal time scale can significantly impact climate on the seasonal time scale.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Sobel, Adam H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 19, 2015