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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-432
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-432
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 24 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 24 Jun 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).

Effects of aerosol in simulations of realistic shallow cumulus cloud fields in a large domain

George Spill1, Philip Stier1, Paul R. Field2,3, and Guy Dagan1 George Spill et al.
  • 1Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 2Met Office, Exeter, UK
  • 3Institute of Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Abstract. Previous study of shallow convection has generally suffered from having to balance domain size with resolution, resulting in high resolution studies which do not capture large scale behaviour of the cloud fields. In this work we hope to go some way towards addressing this by carrying out cloud resolving simulations on large domains. Simulations of trade wind cumulus are carried out using the Met Office Unified Model (UM), based on a case study from the Rain In Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign. The UM is run with a nested domain of 500 km with 500 m resolution, in order to capture the large scale behaviour of the cloud field, and with a double-moment interactive microphysics scheme. Simulations are run using baseline aerosol profiles based on observations from RICO, which are then perturbed. We find that the aerosol perturbations result in changes to the convective behaviour of the cloud field, with higher aerosol leading to an increase (decrease) in the number of deeper (shallower) clouds. However, despite this deepening, there is little increase in the frequency of higher rain rates. This is in contrast to the findings of previous work making use of idealised simulation setups. In further contrast, we find that increasing aerosol results in a persistent increase in domain mean liquid water path and decrease in precipitation, with little impact on cloud fraction.

George Spill et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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George Spill et al.
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Latest update: 16 Sep 2019
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Short summary
Shallow convective clouds are among the most common and least understood clouds in the atmosphere. Here we present simulations of realistic shallow cloud fields in a large domain, in contrast to typical idealised simulations, and find that in these simulations the response to aerosol perturbations is different.
Shallow convective clouds are among the most common and least understood clouds in the...
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