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Plausibility check of an asymptotic column model for deep convective clouds

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Carqué, G., Schmidt, H., Stevens, B., & Klein, R. (2008). Plausibility check of an asymptotic column model for deep convective clouds. ZIB Report, 08-44.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0028-8E59-9
By use of asymptotic analysis Carqué et al. [ZIB-Report 08-03] derived an asymptotic column model for deep convective clouds based on the three dimensional compressible flow equations and a bulk microphysics parameterization. In the present study we check the plausibility of the reduced model equations by comparing implications of the model for the scaling of various terms in the governing equations with those extracted from large eddy simulation data based on the computational model UCLA-LES1.1. This code solves an anelastic system of equations with complete droplet based microphysics and LES closures. We observe that the simulation data corroborate the basic assumptions of the asymptotic analysis and the main conclusions implied by the asymptotically reduced model. The code output reflects the scales of space and time: The deep convective clouds show an anisotropic structure where the horizontal scale is considerably narrower than the vertical scale; with a period of about 20 min, from emergence to breakup, the life cycle of one particular deep convective cloud corresponds exactly to the reference time of the reduced model. The characteristic properties of dynamics as predicted by the reduced model are also reflected in the simulation data: The horizontal flow is controlled by the pressure field; the vertical velocity develops freely independent of pressure over the depth of the convective column; the vertical velocity is directly determined by the buoyancy induced by the potential temperature deviation relative to the background stratification. With respect to grid resolution we observe that refining the spatial step size of the equidistant computational grid from 125 m to 62.5 m does not influence the results: Even with the coarser grid the relevant physical phenomena are sufficiently resolved. Somewhat surprisingly, the Coriolis term involving vertical velocity and acting on the horizontal (east-west) velocity component appears at leading order in the asymptotics. Accordingly, we expected to find a nontrivial impact of this Coriolis effect on the horizontal flow velocity components within columns of updrafts. However, switching the term on and off in subsequent simulations did not sizeably affect the results.