Cumulus cloud over Puerto Rico
Cumulus cloud over Puerto Rico.

RICO: Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean Experiment 2004-2005

Shallow, maritime, cumulus convection is one of the most prevalent cloud types on the planet. They are ubiquitous over much of the tropical oceans. Characterizing their properties is important to understanding the global energy balance and climate. The object of RICO in the broadest sense is to characterize and understand the properties of trade wind cumulus at all scales, with particular emphasis on determining the importance of precipitation.

ETL Contributions

Research groups from the University of Miami, University of Colorado and the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory (ETL) will collaborate on an investigation of the dynamics of tradewind cumuli and the onset of precipitation within them. Researchers will deploy a suite of instruments aboard the UNOLS R/V Seward Johnson designed to provide a comprehensive set of observations of small cumuli over the open ocean. These observations will complement land-based radar and airborne measurements planned for RICO.

Seward Johnson Observations

Observations from the R/V Seward Johnson include a number of remote-sensing and insitu platforms. U. Miami 94-GHz doppler cloud radar and ETL NOAA-K 35-GHz scanning Doppler cloud radar will be used to determine cloud microphysical properties before initiation of precipitation. The cloud radars will provide high-resolution observations of the dynamical and microphysical structure of trade-wind cumuli.. The Mini-MOPA CO2 lidar will document air motions in and around clouds. A package of instruments will measure fluxes of heat, moisture and momentum, sea state, boundary layer winds, thermodynamic structure and inversion height.

LES modeling component

These observations will help to constrain and evaluate LES derived cloud statistics, highlight cloud scale processes such as entrainment, updraft structures, turbulence and coupling between CCN and cloud evolution and assess their role in drop size distribution broadening and precipitation onset.