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Title: The Common Occurrence of Highly Supercooled Drizzle and Rain near the Coastal Regions of the Western United States

The formation of highly supercooled rain was documented by aircraft observations in clouds at a wide range of conditions near the coastal region of the western United States. Several case studies are described in detail using combined cloud and aerosol measurements to document both the highly super-cooled condition and the relatively pristine aerosol conditions under which it forms. The case studies include: (1) Marine convective clouds over the coastal waters of northern California, as measured by cloud physics probes flown on a Gulfstream-1 aircraft during the CALWATER campaign in February and early March 2011. The clouds had extensive drizzle in their tops, which extended downward to the 0°C isotherm as supercooled rain. Ice multiplication was observed only in mature parts of the clouds where cloud water was already depleted. (2) Orographically triggered convective clouds in marine air mass over the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the east of Sacramento, as measured in CALWATER. Supercooled rain was observed down to -21°C. No indications for ice multiplication were evident. (3) Orographic layer clouds over Yosemite National Park, also measured in CALWATER. The clouds had extensive drizzle at -21°C, which intensified with little freezing lower in the cloud, and (4) Supercooled drizzlemore » drops in layer clouds near Juneau, Alaska, as measured by the Wyoming King Air as part of a FAA project to study aircraft icing in this region. Low concentrations of CCN was a common observation in all these clouds, allowing for the formation of clouds with small concentration of large drops that coalesced into supercooled drizzle and raindrops. Another common observation was the absence of ice nuclei and/or ice crystals in measurable concentrations was associated with the persistent supercooled drizzle and rain. Average ice crystal concentrations were 0.007 l-1 at the top of convective clouds at -12°C and 0.03 l-1 in the case of layer clouds at -21°C. In combination these two conditions provide ideal conditions for the formation of highly supercooled drizzle and rain. These results help explain the anomalously high incidences of aircraft icing at cold temperatures in U.S. west coast clouds (Bernstein et al., 2004) and highlight the need to include aerosol effects when simulating aircraft icing with cloud models. These case studies can also serve as benchmarks for explicit cloud microphysics models attempting to simulate the formation of precipitation in these types of pristine conditions.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres), 118(17):9819-9833
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
supercooled; drizzle; rain; coastal; regions; western; United States