The Estimation of Convective Mass Flux from Radar Reflectivities
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The Estimation of Convective Mass Flux from Radar Reflectivities
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    Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 55(5), 1239-1257.
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  • Description:
    Cumulus parameterizations in general circulation models (GCMs) frequently apply mass-flux schemes in their description of tropical convection. Mass flux constitutes the product of the fractional area covered by cumulus clouds in a model grid box and the vertical velocity within the cumulus clouds. The cumulus area fraction profiles can be derived from precipitating radar reflectivity volumes. However, the vertical velocities are difficult to observe, making the evaluation of mass-flux schemes difficult. In this paper, the authors develop and evaluate a parameterization of vertical velocity in convective (cumulus) clouds using only radar reflectivities collected by a C-band polarimetric research radar (CPOL), operating at Darwin, Australia. The parameterization is trained using vertical velocity retrievals from a dual-frequency wind profiler pair located within the field of view of CPOL. The parametric model uses two inputs derived from CPOL reflectivities: the 0-dBZ echo-top height (0-dBZ ETH) and a height-weighted column reflectivity index (ZHWT). The 0-dBZ ETH determines the shape of the vertical velocity profile, while ZHWT determines its strength. The evaluation of these parameterized vertical velocities using (i) the training dataset, (ii) an independent wind-profiler-based dataset, and (iii) 1 month of dual-Doppler vertical velocity retrievals indicates that the statistical representation of vertical velocity is reasonably accurate up to the 75th percentile. However, the parametric model underestimates the extreme velocities. The method allows for the derivation of cumulus mass flux and its variability on current GCM scales based only on reflectivities from precipitating radar, which could be valuable to modelers.
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