Arctic mixed-phase clouds simulated by a cloud-resolving model: Comparison with ARM observations and sensitivity to microphysics parameterizations

Yali Luo, Kuan Man Xu, Hugh Morrison, Greg McFarquhar

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Single-layer mixed-phase stratiform (MPS) Arctic clouds, which formed under conditions of large surface heat flux combined with general subsidence during a subperiod of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program's Mixed-Phase Arctic Cloud Experiment (MPACE), are simulated with a cloud-resolving model (CRM). The CRM is implemented with either an advanced two-moment [Morrison et al. (MCK)] or a commonly used one-moment [Lin et al. (LFO)] bulk microphysics scheme and a state-of-the-art radiative transfer scheme. The MCK simulation, which uses the two-moment scheme and observed aerosol size distribution and ice nulei (IN) number concentration, reproduces the magnitudes and vertical structures of cloud liquid water content (LWC), total ice water content (IWC), and number concentration and effective radius of cloud droplets as suggested by the MPACE observations. The simulation underestimates ice crystal number concentrations by an order of magnitude and overestimates effective radius of ice crystals by a factor of 2-3. The LFO experiment, which uses the one-moment scheme, produces values of liquid water path (LWP) and ice plus snow water path (ISWP) that were about 30% and 4 times, respectively, those produced by MCK. The vertical profile of IWC exhibits a bimodal distribution in contrast to the constant distribution of IWC produced in MCK and observations. A sensitivity test that uses the same ice-water saturation adjustment scheme as in LFO produces cloud properties that are more similar to the LFO simulation than MCK. The mean value of the intercept parameter of snow size spectra (Nos) from MCK is one order of magnitude smaller than that assumed in LFO. A sensitivity test that prescribes the larger LFO Nos results in 20% less LWP and 5 times larger snow water path than that in MCK. When an exponential ice size distribution replaces the gamma size distribution in MCK, the ISWP decreases by 70% but the LWP increases by 7% versus that in the MCK. Increasing the IN number concentration from the observed value of 0.16 to 3.2 L-1 forces the MPS clouds to become glaciated and dissipate, but the simulated ice number concentration agrees initially with the observations better. Physical explanations for these quantitative differences are provided. It is further shown that the differences between the LFO and MCK results are larger than those due to the estimated uncertainties in the prescribed surface fluxes. Additional observations and simulations of a variety of cases are required to further narrow down uncertainties in the microphysics schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1285-1303
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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