RACORO continental boundary layer cloud investigations: 1. case study development and ensemble large-scale forcings

Andrew M. Vogelmann, Ann M. Fridlind, Tami Toto, Satoshi Endo, Wuyin Lin, Jian Wang, Sha Feng, Yunyan Zhang, David D. Turner, Yangang Liu, Zhijin Li, Shaocheng Xie, Andrew S. Ackerman, Minghua Zhang, Marat Khairoutdinov

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17 Scopus citations


Observation-based modeling case studies of continental boundary layer clouds have been developed to study cloudy boundary layers, aerosol influences upon them, and their representation in cloud- and global-scale models. Three 60 h case study periods span the temporal evolution of cumulus, stratiform, and drizzling boundary layer cloud systems, representing mixed and transitional states rather than idealized or canonical cases. Based on in situ measurements from the Routine AAF (Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Aerial Facility) CLOWD (Clouds with Low Optical Water Depth) Optical Radiative Observations (RACORO) field campaign and remote sensing observations, the cases are designed with a modular configuration to simplify use in large-eddy simulations (LES) and single-column models. Aircraft measurements of aerosol number size distribution are fit to lognormal functions for concise representation in models. Values of the aerosol hygroscopicity parameter, κ, are derived from observations to be ~0.10, which are lower than the 0.3 typical over continents and suggestive of a large aerosol organic fraction. Ensemble large-scale forcing data sets are derived from the ARM variational analysis, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and a multiscale data assimilation system. The forcings are assessed through comparison of measured bulk atmospheric and cloud properties to those computed in “trial” large-eddy simulations, where more efficient run times are enabled through modest reductions in grid resolution and domain size compared to the full-sized LES grid. Simulations capture many of the general features observed, but the state-of-the-art forcings were limited at representing details of cloud onset, and tight gradients and high-resolution transients of importance. Methods for improving the initial conditions and forcings are discussed. The cases developed are available to the general modeling community for studying continental boundary clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5962-5992
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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