Intercomparison of Bulk Cloud Microphysics Schemes in Mesoscale Simulations of Springtime Arctic Mixed-Phase Stratiform Clouds

Morrison, H.; Pinto, J. O.
July 2006
Monthly Weather Review;Jul2006, Vol. 134 Issue 7, p1880
Academic Journal
A persistent, weakly forced, horizontally extensive mixed-phase boundary layer cloud observed on 4–5 May 1998 during the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA)/First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) Regional Experiment–Arctic Clouds Experiment (FIRE–ACE) is modeled using three different bulk microphysics parameterizations of varying complexity implemented into the polar version of the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5). The two simpler schemes predict mostly ice clouds and very little liquid water, while the complex scheme is able to reproduce the observed persistence and horizontal extent of the mixed-phase stratus deck. This mixed-phase cloud results in radiative warming of the surface, the development of a cloud-topped, surface-based mixed layer, and an enhanced precipitation rate. In contrast, the optically thin ice clouds predicted by the simpler schemes lead to radiative cooling of the surface, a strong diurnal cycle in the boundary layer structure, and very weak precipitation. The larger surface precipitation rate using the complex scheme is partly balanced by an increase in the turbulent flux of water vapor from the surface to the atmosphere. This enhanced vapor flux is attributed to changes in the surface and boundary layer characteristics induced by the cloud itself, although cloud–surface interactions appear to be exaggerated in the model compared with reality. The prediction of extensive mixed-phase stratus by the complex scheme is also associated with increased surface pressure and subsidence relative to the other simulations. Sensitivity tests show that the detailed treatment of ice nucleation and prediction of snow particle number concentration in the complex scheme suppresses ice particle concentration relative to the simpler schemes, reducing the vapor deposition rate (for given values of bulk ice mass and ice supersaturation) and leading to much greater amounts of liquid water and mixed-phase cloudiness. These results suggest that the treatments of ice nucleation and the snow intercept parameter in the simpler schemes, which are based upon midlatitude observations, are inadequate for simulating the weakly forced mixed-phase clouds endemic to the Arctic.


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