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Title: Roles of Wind Shear at Different Vertical Levels, Part I: Cloud System Organization and Properties

Understanding of critical processes that contribute to the organization of mesoscale convective systems is important for accurate weather forecast and climate prediction. In this study, we investigate the effects of wind shear at different vertical levels on the organization and properties of cloud systems using the Weather Research & Forecasting (WRF) model with a spectral-bin microphysical scheme. The sensitivity experiments are performed by increasing wind shear at the lower (0-5 km), middle (5-10 km), upper (> 10 km) and the entire troposphere, respectively, based on a control run for a mesoscale convective system (MCS) with weak wind shear. We find that increasing wind shear at the both lower and middle vertical levels reduces the domain-accumulated precipitation and the occurrence of heavy rain, while increasing wind shear at the upper levels changes little on precipitation. Although increasing wind shear at the lower-levels is favorable for a more organized quasi-line system which leads to enlarged updraft core area, and enhanced updraft velocities and vertical mass fluxes, the precipitation is still reduced by 18.6% compared with the control run due to stronger rain evaporation induced by the low-level wind shear. Strong wind shear in the middle levels only produces a strong super-cell overmore » a narrow area, leading to 67.3% reduction of precipitation over the domain. By increasing wind shear at the upper levels only, the organization of the convection is not changed much, but the increased cloudiness at the upper-levels leads to stronger surface cooling and then stabilizes the atmosphere and weakens the convection. When strong wind shear exists over the entire vertical profile, a deep dry layer (2-9 km) is produced and convection is severely suppressed. There are fewer very-high (cloud top height (CTH) > 15 km) and very-deep (cloud thickness > 15 km) clouds, and the precipitation is only about 11.8% of the control run. The changes in cloud microphysical properties further explain the reduction of surface rain by strong wind shear especially at the lower- and middle-levels. The insights obtained from this study help us better understand the cloud system organization and provide foundation for better parameterizing organized MCS.« less
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
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Journal Name: Journal of Geophysical Research. D. (Atmospheres), 120
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
wind shear; cloud system organization; deep convection