Observed and Modeled Warm Rainfall Occurrence and Its Relationships with Cloud...

King, J. M., C. D. Kummerow, S. van den Heever, and M. Igel (2015), Observed and Modeled Warm Rainfall Occurrence and Its Relationships with Cloud Macrophysical Properties, J. Atmos. Sci., 72, 4075-4090, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-14-0368.1.

Observed and modeled rainfall occurrence from shallow (warm) maritime clouds and their composite statistical relationships with cloud macrophysical properties are analyzed and directly compared. Rain falls from ;25% of warm, single-layered, maritime clouds observed by CloudSat and from ;27% of the analogous warm clouds simulated within a large-domain, fine-resolution radiative–convective equilibrium experiment performed using the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS), with its sophisticated bin-emulating bulk microphysical scheme. While the fractional occurrence of observed and simulated warm rainfall is found to increase with both increasing column-integrated liquid water and cloud depth, calculations of rainfall occurrence as a joint function of these two macrophysical quantities suggest that the modeled bulk cloud-torainwater conversion process is more efficient than observations indicate—in agreement with previous research. Unexpectedly and in opposition to the model-derived relationship, deeper CloudSat-observed warm clouds with little column water mass are more likely to rain than their corresponding shallow counterparts, despite having lower cloud-mean water contents. Given that these composite relationships were derived from statically identified warm clouds, an attempt is made to quantitatively explore rainfall occurrence within the context of the warm cloud life cycle. Extending a previously established cloud-top buoyancy analysis technique, it is shown that rainfall likelihoods from positively buoyant RAMS-simulated clouds more closely resemble the surprising observed relationships than do those derived from negatively buoyant simulated clouds. This suggests that relative to the depiction of warm clouds within the RAMS output, CloudSat observes higher proportions of positively buoyant, developing warm clouds.

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