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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Jul 2018

Research article | 04 Jul 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

In-Situ Measurements of Cloud Microphysical and Aerosol Properties during the Breakup of Stratocumulus Cloud Layers in Cold Air Outbreaks over the North Atlantic

Gary Lloyd1,2, Thomas W. Choularton2, Keith N. Bower2, Martin W. Gallagher2, Jonathan Crosier1,2, Sebastian O'Shea1, Steven J. Abel3, Stuart Fox3, Richard Cotton3, and Ian A. Boutle3 Gary Lloyd et al.
  • 1NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), UK
  • 2Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, UK
  • 3Met Office, Exeter, UK

Abstract. A key challenge for numerical weather prediction models is representing boundary layer clouds in Cold Air Outbreaks. One important aspect is the evolution of microphysical properties as stratocumulus transitions to open cellular convection. Abel et al. (2017) has for the first time from in-situ field observations shown that the breakup in cold air outbreaks over the eastern Atlantic may be controlled by the development of precipitation in the cloud system while the boundary layer becomes decoupled. This paper describes that case and examines in-situ measurements from 3 more cold air outbreaks. Flights were conducted using the UK FAAM BAe-146 aircraft in the North Atlantic region around the UK making detailed microphysical measurements in the stratiform boundary layer. As the cloudy boundary layer evolves prior to breakup, increasing liquid water paths, drop sizes and the formation of liquid precipitation is observed. Small numbers of ice particles are also observed. Eventually LWPs reduce significantly due to loss of water from the Sc cloud layer. In 3 of the cases, aerosols are removed from the boundary layer across the transition. This process appears to be similar to those observed in warm clouds and pockets of open cells in the subtropics. After breakup, deeper convective clouds form with bases warm enough for secondary ice production, leading to rapid glaciation. It is concluded that the precipitation is strongly associated with the break-up, with both weakening of the capping inversion and boundary layer decoupling also observed.

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Gary Lloyd et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The work deals with cold weather outbreaks at high latitudes that often bring severe weather such as heavy snow, lightning and high winds but are poorly forecast by weather models. Here we made measurements of these events and the clouds associated with them using a research aircraft. We found that the properties of these clouds were often very different to what the models predicted, and these results can potentially be used to bring significant improvement to the forecasting of these events.
The work deals with cold weather outbreaks at high latitudes that often bring severe weather...