10.3 Environmental Controls on the Transition from Shallow Cumulus to Congestus Sampled during MC3E

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 9:15 AM
Room 12A (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
David B. Mechem, Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence, KS; and S. E. Giangrande

Controls on precipitation onset and the transition from shallow cumulus to congestus are explored using a suite of 16 large-eddy simulations based on the 25 May 2011 event from the Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment (MC3E). The thermodynamic variables in the model are relaxed at various timescales to observationally constrained temperature and moisture profiles in order to better reproduce the observed behavior of precipitation onset and total precipitation. Three of the simulations stand out as best matching the precipitation observations and also perform well for independent comparisons of cloud fraction, precipitation area fraction, and evolution of cloud-top occurrence. All three simulations exhibit a destabilization over time, which leads to a transition to deeper clouds, but the evolution of traditional stability metrics by themselves are not able to explain differences in the simulations. Conditionally sampled cloud properties (in particular, mean cloud buoyancy), however, do elicit differences among the simulations. The inability of environmental profiles alone to discern subtle differences among the simulations and the usefulness of conditionally sampled model quantities argue for hybrid observational/modeling approaches.
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