Impact of Activation Treatment and CCN/IN Concentrations on Simulations of A Continental Convective System

Friday, 19 December 2014
Daniel A Rothenberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States and Chien Wang, MIT, Cambridge, MA, United States
Aerosol play an important role in mediating cloud microphysics by serving as both cloud condensation and ice nuclei (CCN and IN). In mixed-phase, deep convective clouds, these CCN and IN can alter physical processes related to droplet activation and heterogeneous freezing, affecting the dynamics, microphysics, and ultimately evolution of the cloud. However, modifying the CCN and IN budget entrained into a cloud eventually leads to many simultaneous, competing microphysical processes which make it difficult to precisely predict how cloud properties will change.

Here, we study the sensitivity of a continental convective system observed during the Mid-latitude Airborne Cirrus Properties Experiment (MACPEX) in 2011 to changes in CCN and IN burden with the help of 2D and 3D cloud-resolving model simulations. We explore how the potential for convective invigoration is sensitive to the treatment of droplet activation at the cloud base by adopting an emulator of an adiabatic parcel model to parameterize the activation calculation. Furthermore, we study how changes in the IN budget can enhance the role of heterogeneous freezing and diminish the efficacy of homogeneous freezing above the -40C isotherm within the cloud. Since anvil ice is typically produced homogeneously, we also study how this shift in freezing mechanisms affects the size distributions and properties of the system's anvil cirrus. The in situ observations of anvil ice obtained during MACPEX and the ice nuclei residuals are used as a reference to constrain the simulations.