Inference of Precipitation in Warm Stratiform Clouds Using Remotely Sensed Observations of the Cloud Top Droplet Size Distribution

Sinclair, Kenneth Allan; van Diedenhoven, Bastiaan; Cairns, Brian; Alexandrov, Mikhail; Dzambo, Andrew M.; L'Ecuyer, Tristan

Drizzle is a common feature of warm stratiform clouds and it influences their radiative effects by modulating their physical properties and lifecycle. An important component of drizzle formation are processes that lead to a broadening of the droplet size distribution (DSD). Here, we examine observations of cloud and drizzle properties retrieved using colocated airborne measurements from the Research Scanning Polarimeter and the Third Generation Airborne Precipitation Radar. We observe a bimodal DSD as the aircraft transects drizzling open-cells whereby the larger mode reaches a maximum size near cloud center and the smaller mode remains relatively constant in size. We review similarities between our observations with droplet growth processes and their connections with precipitation onset. We estimate droplet sedimentation using the cloud top DSD and find a correlation with rain water path of 0.82. We also examine how changes in liquid water paths and droplet concentrations may act to enhance or suppress precipitation.


Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

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Academic Units
Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Published Here
May 11, 2021