In-Situ Measurements of Cloud Microphysical and Aerosol Properties during the Breakup of Stratocumulus Cloud Layers in Cold Air Outbreaks over the North Atlantic

Gary Lloyd, Thomas W. Choularton, Keith N. Bower, Martin W. Gallagher, Jonathan Crosier, Sebastian O'Shea, Steven J. Abel, Stuart Fox, Richard Cotton, Ian A. Boutle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    A key challenge for numerical weather prediction models is representing boundary layer clouds in cold air outbreaks (CAOs). One important aspect is the evolution of microphysical properties as stratocumulus transitions to open cellular convection. Abel et al. (2017) have shown, for the first time from in situ field observations, that the break-up in CAOs over the eastern Atlantic may be controlled by the development of precipitation in the cloud system while the boundary layer becomes decoupled. This paper describes that case and examines in situ measurements from three more CAOs. Flights were conducted using the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) British Aerospace-146 (BAe-146) aircraft in the North Atlantic region around the UK, making detailed microphysical measurements in the stratiform boundary layer. As the cloudy boundary layer evolves prior to break-up, increasing liquid water paths (LWPs) and drop sizes and the formation of liquid precipitation are observed. Small numbers of ice particles, typically a few per litre, are also observed. Eventually LWPs reduce significantly due to loss of water from the stratocumulus cloud (SC) layer. In three of the cases, aerosols are removed from the boundary layer across the transition. This process appears to be similar to those observed in warm clouds and pockets of open cells (POCs) in the subtropics. After break-up, deeper convective clouds form with bases warm enough for secondary ice production (SIP), leading to rapid glaciation. It is concluded that the precipitation is strongly associated with the break-up, with both weakening of the capping inversion and boundary layer decoupling also observed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2018

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