A method of analyzing radar data is developed and applied to determine whether the X-band radar reflectivity evolution of clouds observed during summertime on the northeast Florida coast during the Small Cumulus Microphysics Study (SCMS) shows distinct differences in precipitation development that can be associated with the clouds' maritime or continental characteristics. For this study, the entire National Center for Atmospheric Research CP2 radar dataset from SCMS was examined, and 38 clouds were used. For these clouds the evolution in X-band radar reflectivity, from the clouds' earliest detection through precipitation, was clearly documented and met specific requirements concerning the clouds' location relative to the coastline and direction of movement. Since cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and giant and ultragiant nuclei (GN) measurements were not available for the specific clouds used in this study, proxies were used to partition the clouds into four groups based on the cloud location and direction of movement. Specifically, it was assumed that clouds forming over the ocean during onshore flow had maritime characteristics (group 1: low CCN, high GN), clouds forming over land during onshore flow would have modified maritime characteristics (group 2: high CCN, high GN), clouds forming over land during offshore flow would have continental characteristics (group 3: high CCN, low GN), and clouds forming over the ocean during offshore flow would have modified continental characteristics (group 4: high CCN, high GN). These assumptions are based on past measurements presented by Sax and Hudson. Then, these populations were statistically compared using the nonparametric multiresponse permutation procedure developed by Mielke et al. A comparison of groups 1 and 2 provided a test of the role of CCN concentrations in precipitation development in these cloud populations. A comparison of groups 3 and 4 provided a test of the role of GN concentrations in precipitation development in these cloud populations. The two cloud populations that were disjoint at a statistically significant level were groups 1 and 2. For these groups, the analysis showed that the median characteristic total water content of the truly maritime clouds (group 1) was about half that of the modified maritime clouds (group 2) at the time of precipitation formation. The characteristic time to precipitation formation was about 60% smaller for the truly maritime clouds. Thus, the characteristic reflectivity threshold for precipitation development was reached at a much lower altitude above cloud base in a much faster time in the truly maritime clouds. This result supports the conclusions of Hudson and Yum that precipitation development in the SCMS clouds was primarily controlled by CCN concentrations rather than GN concentrations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science