Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 495-527

First online:

Stratocumulus-capped mixed layers derived from a three-dimensional model

  • James W. DeardorffAffiliated withDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University

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Results of a three-dimensional numerical model are analysed in a study of turbulence and entrainment within mixed layers containing stratocumulus with or without parameterized cloud-top radiative cooling. The model eliminates most of the assumptions invoked in theories of cloud-capped mixed layers, but suffers disadvantages which include poor resolution and large truncation errors in and above the capping inversion.

For relatively thick mixed layers with relatively thick capping inversions, the cloud-top radiative cooling is found to be lodged mostly within the capping inversion when the cooling is confined locally to the upper 50 m or less of the cloud. It does not then contribute substantially towards increased buoyancy flux and turbulence within the well mixed layer just below.

The optimal means of correlating the entrainment rate, or mixed-layer growth rate, for mixed layers of variable amounts of stratocumulus is found to be through functional dependence upon an overall jump Richardson number, utilizing as scaling velocity the standard deviation of vertical velocity existing at the top of the mixed layer (near the center of the capping inversion). This velocity is found to be a fraction of the generalized convective velocity for the mixed layer as a whole which is greater for cloud-capped mixed layers than for clear mixed layers.