Zuidema P., Z. Li, R. J. Hill, L. Bariteau, B. Rilling, C. W. Fairall, W. A. Brewer, B. Albrecht and J. Hare (January 2012): On trade wind cumulus cold pools. J. Atmos. Sci., 69, 258-280. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-11-0143.1

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Abstract

Shallow precipitating cumuli within the easterly trades were investigated using shipboard measurements, scanning radar data, and visible satellite imagery from 2 weeks in January 2005 of the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) experiment. Shipboard rainfall rates of up to 2 mm h−1 were recorded almost daily, if only for 10–30 min typically, almost always from clouds within mesoscale arcs. The precipitating cumuli, capable of reaching above 4 km, cooled surface air by 1–2 K, in all cases lowered surface specific humidities by up to 1.5 g kg−1, reduced surface equivalent potential temperatures by up to 6 K, and were often associated with short-lived increases in wind speed. Upper-level downdrafts were inferred to explain double-lobed moisture and temperature sounding profiles, as well as multiple inversions in wind profiler data. In two cases investigated further, the precipitating convection propagated faster westward than the mean surface wind by about 2–3 m s−1, consistent with a density current of depth ~200 m. In their cold pool recovery zones, the surface air temperatures equilibrated with time to the sea surface temperatures, but the surface air specific humidities stayed relatively constant after initial quick recoveries. This suggested that entrainment of drier air from above fully compensated the moistening from surface latent heat fluxes. Recovery zone surface wind speeds and latent heat fluxes were not higher than environmental values. Nonprecipitating clouds developed after the surface buoyancy had recovered (barring encroachment of other convection). The mesoscale arcs favored atmospheres with higher water vapor paths. These observations differed from those of stratocumulus and deep tropical cumulus cold pools.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-11-0143.1
URI: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/pubs/id/eprint/92