U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Impact of Local Climate on Cloud Systems
Published: February 01, 2013
Posted: June 20, 2013

Researchers took advantage of cloud system observations in two very different environments to study factors that influence tropical convective cloud system development. The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program conducted field studies in two different tropical locations—Darwin, Australia, and Niamey, Niger. Darwin is a tropical coastal site, while Niamey is an arid site fairly close to the Sahara desert. The researchers used radiosonde observations from ARM and other international agencies to initialize high-resolution model simulations and compared the resulting cloud fields to radar and satellite observations to determine whether the model was correctly capturing the cloud properties. The model was able to reproduce characteristics of the observed mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) in both locations. The African cloud systems had a scale of nearly 400 km, while the Australian systems were much smaller (approximately 100 km). Once satisfied with the model simulation quality, the researchers performed sensitivity studies to understand what environmental aspects led to cloud system variations at the two locations. The model experiments found that the Australian cloud systems had stronger convective updrafts, while the African clouds had stronger mesoscale ascent outside of the convective areas. Differences in vertical wind shear and larger amounts of dust aerosol at Niamey also contributed to the variations found in the two regions. The high-resolution model simulations enabled quantitative descriptions of water transport between the convective, stratiform, and anvil regions of the cloud systems and quantification of water sources and sinks from microphysical processes, providing information that can be used to help determine parameters in cloud parameterizations used in general circulation models (GCMs).

Reference: Zeng, X., W.-K. Tao, S. W. Powell, R. A. Houze, P. Ciesielski, N. Guy, H. Pierce, and T. Matsui. 2013. "A Comparison of the Water Budgets Between Clouds from AMMA and TWP-ICE," Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 70(2), 487–503. DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-12-050.1. (Reference link)

Contact: Wanda Ferrell, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0043, Sally McFarlane, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0943, Ashley Williamson, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3120
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Facility: DOE ARM User Facility

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)