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Title: Observed Boundary Layer Controls on Shallow Cumulus at the ARM Southern Great Plains Site

The boundary layer controls on shallow cumulus (ShCu) convection are examined using a suite of remote and in situ sensors at ARM Southern Great Plains (SGP). A key instrument in the study is a Doppler lidar that measures vertical velocity in the CBL and along cloud base. Using a sample of 138 ShCu days, the composite structure of the ShCu CBL is examined, revealing increased vertical velocity (VV) variance during periods of medium cloud cover and higher VV skewness on ShCu days than on clear-sky days. The subcloud circulations of 1791 individual cumuli are also examined. From these data, we show that cloud-base updrafts, normalized by convective velocity, vary as a function of updraft width normalized by CBL depth. It is also found that 63% of clouds have positive cloud-base mass flux and are linked to coherent updrafts extending over the depth of the CBL. In contrast, negative mass flux clouds lack coherent subcloud updrafts. Both sets of clouds possess narrow downdrafts extending from the cloud edges into the subcloud layer. These downdrafts are also present adjacent to cloud-free updrafts, suggesting they are mechanical in origin. The cloud-base updraft data are subsequently combined with observations of convective inhibition to formmore » dimensionless “cloud inhibition” (CI) parameters. Updraft fraction and liquid water path are shown to vary inversely with CI, a finding consistent with CIN-based closures used in convective parameterizations. However, we also demonstrate a limited link between CBL vertical velocity variance and cloud-base updrafts, suggesting that additional factors, including updraft width, are necessary predictors for cloud-base updrafts.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. San Jose State Univ., CA (United States)
  2. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0022-4928; 890086
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-07NA27344; SC0018335; AC52-07NA27344.
Published Article
Journal Name:
Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 75; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 0022-4928
American Meteorological Society
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States); San Jose State Univ., CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; boundary layer; cumulus clouds; mass fluxes/transport; lidars/lidar observations; convective parameterization
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1458698