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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-229
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-229
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Mar 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Relative impact of aerosol, soil moisture and orographyperturbations on deep convection

Linda Schneider, Christian Barthlott, and Corinna Hoose Linda Schneider et al.
  • Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-TRO), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

Abstract. The predictability of deep moist convection depends on many factors such as the synoptic-scale flow, the geographical region (i.e., the presence of mountains), land surface–atmosphere as well as aerosol–cloud interactions. This study addresses all these factors by investigating the relative impact of orography, soil moisture and aerosols on precipitation over Germany in different weather regimes. To this end, we conduct numerical sensitivity studies with the COnsortium for Small-sale MOdelling (COSMO) model at high spatial resolution (500 m grid spacing) for six days with weak and strong synoptic forcing. The numerical experiments consist of (i) successive smoothing of topographical features, (ii) systematic changes in the initial soil moisture fields (spatially homogeneous increase/decrease, horizontal uniform soil moisture, different realizations of dry/wet patches), and (iii) different assumptions on the ambient aerosol concentration (spatially homogeneous and heterogeneous fields). Our results show that the impact of these perturbations on precipitation is on average higher for weak than for strong synoptic forcing. Soil moisture and aerosols are each responsible for the maximum precipitation response for three of the cases, while the sensitivity to terrain forcing always shows the smallest spread. For the majority of the analyzed cases, the model produces a positive soil moisture-precipitation feedback when averaged over the entire model domain. Furthermore, correct initial values are much more important than the spatial distribution of dry and wet patches. The precipitation response to changes in the CCN concentration is more complex and case dependent. The smoothing of terrain shows weaker impacts on days with strong synoptic forcing because surface fluxes are less important and orographic ascent is still simulated reasonably well, despite missing fine-scale orographical features. We apply an object-based characterization to identify if and how the perturbations affect the structure, location, timing, and intensity of precipitation. These diagnostics reveal that the structure component is highest in the soil moisture and aerosol simulations, often due to changes in the maximum precipitation amounts. This indicates that the dominant mechanisms for convection initiation remain, but that precipitation amounts depend on the strength of the trigger mechanisms. Location and amplitude parameters are both much smaller. Still, the temporal evolution of the amplitude component correlates well with the rain rate. Our results suggest that for quantitative precipitation forecasting, both aerosols and soil moisture are of similar importance and that their inclusion in convective-scale ensemble forecasting containing classical sources of uncertainty should be assessed in the future.

Linda Schneider et al.
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Linda Schneider et al.
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Short summary
This study addresses the relative impact of orography, soil moisture and aerosols on precipitation over Germany in different weather regimes. We find that the impact of these perturbations is higher for weak than for strong large-scale forcing. Furthermore, aerosols and soil moisture are both of similar importance for precipitation forecasting which indicates that their inclusion in operational ensemble forecasting should be assessed in the future.
This study addresses the relative impact of orography, soil moisture and aerosols on...
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