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Triggering Deep Convection with a Probabilistic Plume Model

D'Andrea, Fabio; Gentine, Pierre; Betts, Alan K.; Lintner, Benjamin R.

A model unifying the representation of the planetary boundary layer and dry, shallow and deep convection, the Probabilistic Plume Model (PPM), is presented. Its capacity to reproduce the triggering of deep convection over land is analysed in detail. The model accurately reproduces the timing of shallow convection and of deep convection onset over land, which is a major issue in many current general climate models.

The PPM is based on a distribution of plumes with varying thermodynamic states (potential temperature and specific humidity) induced by surface layer turbulence. Precipitation is computed by a simple ice microphysics, and with the onset of precipitation, downdrafts are initiated and lateral entrainment of environmental air into updrafts is reduced.

The most buoyant updrafts are responsible for the triggering of moist convection, causing the rapid growth of clouds and precipitation. Organization of turbulence in the subcloud layer is induced by unsaturated downdrafts, and the effect of density currents is modeled through a reduction of the lateral entrainment. The reduction of entrainment induces further development from the precipitating congestus phase to full deep cumulonimbus.

Model validation is performed by comparing cloud base, cloud top heights, timing of precipitation and environmental profiles against cloud resolving models and large-eddy simulations for two test cases. These comparisons demonstrate that PPM triggers deep convection at the proper time in the diurnal cycle, and produces reasonable precipitation. On the other hand, PPM underestimates cloud top height.


Also Published In

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Engineering
Published Here
October 7, 2014


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