On CCN Effects upon Convective Cold Pool Timing and Features

Tobias I.D. Ross, Sonia Lasher-Trapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cold pools produced by deep convection can initiate new convection, and their representation in larger-scale weather and climate models could improve prediction of the extent and timing of upscale growth. Cold pools originate from latent cooling from precipitation changing phase, but little attention has been paid to microphysical influences on cold pool characteristics, particularly CCN effects. Datasets obtained from the CACTI and RELAMPAGO field campaigns, along with idealized numerical modeling, are utilized to investigate the hypothesis that convective storms forming in higher-CCN environments generate their first surface rainfall later, delaying cold pool initiation. Aircraft observations of CCN and shallow convection on 9 days do suggest a CCN effect. Those ingesting more CCN contained fewer drizzle drops, although a decreased cloud depth with increasing CCN was also likely a limiting factor. In three of those cases that later developed into deep convection, the timing of cold pool onset was not ubiquitously delayed in environments with more CCN. Idealized numerical simulations suggest that an ordinary thunderstorm can experience small delays in cold pool onset with increasing CCN due to changes in graupel production, but CCN effects on the cold pool from a supercell thunderstorm can be easily overpowered by its unique dynamics. A strong inverse relationship between cold pool strength, expansion rate, and depth with increasing CCN is suggested by the results of the ordinary thunderstorm simulation. Further consideration of CCN appears warranted for future cold pool parameterization development, but other environmental factors affecting storm morphology and precipitation cannot be ignored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-906
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Cloud microphysics
  • Cold pools
  • Convective storms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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