Evaluation of microphysics schemes in tropical cyclones using polarimetric radar observations: Convective precipitation in an outer rainband

Dan Wu, Fuqing Zhang, Xiaomin Chen, Alexander Ryzhkov, Kun Zhao, Matthew R. Kumjian, Xingchao Chen, Pak Wai Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Cloud microphysics significantly impact tropical cyclone precipitation. A prior polarimetric radar observational study by the authors revealed the ice-phase microphysical processes as the dominant microphysics mechanisms responsible for the heavy precipitation in the outer rainband of Typhoon Nida (2016). To assess the model performance regarding microphysics, three double-moment microphysics schemes (i.e., Thompson, Morrison, and WDM6) are evaluated by performing a set of simulations of the same case. While these simulations capture the outer rainband's general structure, microphysics in the outer rainbands are strikingly different from the observations. This discrepancy is primarily attributed to different microphysics parameterizations in these schemes, rather than the differences in large-scale environments due to cloud-environment interactions. An interesting finding in this study is that the surface rain rate or liquid water content is inversely proportional to the simulated mean raindrop sizes. The mass-weighted raindrop diameters are overestimated in the Morrison and Thompson schemes and underestimated in the WDM6 scheme, while the former two schemes produce lower liquid water content than WDM6. Compared with the observed ice water content based on a new polarimetric radar retrieval method, the ice water content above the environmental 08C level in all simulations is highly underestimated, especially at heights above 12 km MSL where large concentrations of small ice particles are typically prevalent. This finding suggests that the improper treatment of ice-phase processes is potentially an important error source in these microphysics schemes. Another error source identified in the WDM6 scheme is overactive warm-rain processes that produce excessive concentrations of smaller raindrops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1068
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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