Numerical Simulations of the Formation of Melting-Layer Cloud

Yasunaga, Kazuaki; Hashimoto, Akihiro; Yoshizaki, Masanori
January 2008
Monthly Weather Review;Jan2008, Vol. 136 Issue 1, p223
Academic Journal
A number of previously published observational studies have reported the common occurrence of cloudy layers at around 5-km elevation in the tropics. There are two candidate processes that are able to explain the occurrence of cloudy layers in the middle level: cloud detrainment promoted by the stable layer and enhanced condensation to compensate for melting cooling. In the present study, the authors used a cloud-resolving nonhydrostatic model and conducted numerical simulations of a squall line to clarify the process responsible for the formation of midlevel thin cloud, especially the cloud at the 0°C level. In a two-dimensional control experiment thin cloud was simulated in the middle level, and cloud coverage showed a notable peak just below the 0°C level for environments without a stable layer in the initial temperature profile. Enhanced and weakened stability layers simultaneously appeared above and below the peak level of the cloud coverage. The formation of midlevel thin cloud is associated with intensified condensation to compensate for strong cooling due to the melting of ice particles. The enhancement of condensation continues until ice is no longer provided to the cloud at the melting level. This means that the cloud survives for a longer period than cloud at other levels. To investigate the influence of the commonly observed tropical stable layer on the occurrence of midlevel thin cloud, the authors performed three sensitivity tests in which a warm rain microphysics scheme was employed and/or the initial temperature profile had enhanced and weakened stability layers in the middle level. Comparisons among the control and sensitivity experiments revealed that intensified condensation related to melting cooling plays a critical role in the formation of midlevel thin cloud, although the stable layer is associated with the inhibition of convection growth in the middle level. A three-dimensional experiment under more realistic conditions simulated cloud formation at the 0°C level, although the peak of the cloud coverage was less prominent than those in the two-dimensional experiments.


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