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Title: Impact of Resolution on Simulation of Closed Mesoscale Cellular Convection Identified by Dynamically Guided Watershed Segmentation

Organized mesoscale cellular convection (MCC) is a common feature of marine stratocumulus that forms in response to a balance between mesoscale dynamics and smaller scale processes such as cloud radiative cooling and microphysics. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting model with chemistry (WRF-Chem) and fully coupled cloud-aerosol interactions to simulate marine low clouds during the VOCALS-REx campaign over the southeast Pacific. A suite of experiments with 3- and 9-km grid spacing indicates resolution-dependent behavior. The simulations with finer grid spacing have smaller liquid water paths and cloud fractions, while cloud tops are higher. The observed diurnal cycle is reasonably well simulated. To isolate organized MCC characteristics we develop a new automated method, which uses a variation of the watershed segmentation technique that combines the detection of cloud boundaries with a test for coincident vertical velocity characteristics. This ensures that the detected cloud fields are dynamically consistent for closed MCC, the most common MCC type over the VOCALS-REx region. We demonstrate that the 3-km simulation is able to reproduce the scaling between horizontal cell size and boundary layer height seen in satellite observations. However, the 9-km simulation is unable to resolve smaller circulations corresponding to shallower boundary layers, instead producingmore » invariant MCC horizontal scale for all simulated boundary layers depths. The results imply that climate models with grid spacing of roughly 3 km or smaller may be needed to properly simulate the MCC structure in the marine stratocumulus regions.« less
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  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
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Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0747-7309; 400402000
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres; Journal Volume: 119; Journal Issue: 22
American Geophysical Union
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States