Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 341-380

First online:

A GCSS Boundary-Layer Cloud Model Intercomparison Study Of The First Astex Lagrangian Experiment

  • Christopher S. BrethertonAffiliated withUniversity of Washington
  • , Steven K. KruegerAffiliated withUniversity of Utah
  • , Matthew C. WyantAffiliated withUniversity of Washington
  • , Peter BechtoldAffiliated withLaboratoire d'Aerologie
  • , Erik Van MeijgaardAffiliated withRoyal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
  • , Bjorn StevensAffiliated withColorado State University
  • , Joao TeixeiraAffiliated withECMWF

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Three single-column models (all with an explicit liquid water budget and compara-tively high vertical resolution) and three two-dimensional eddy-resolving models (including one with bin-resolved microphysics) are compared with observations from the first ASTEX Lagrangian experiment. This intercomparison was a part of the second GCSS boundary-layer cloud modelling workshop in August 1995.

In the air column tracked during the first ASTEX Lagrangian experiment, a shallow subtropical drizzling stratocumulus-capped marine boundary layer deepens after two days into a cumulus capped boundary layer with patchy stratocumulus. The models are forced with time varying boundary conditions at the sea-surface and the capping inversion to simulate the changing environment of the air column.

The models all predict the observed deepening and decoupling of the boundary layer quite well, with cumulus cloud evolution and thinning of the overlying stratocumulus. Thus these models all appear capable of predicting transitions between cloud and boundary-layer types with some skill. The models also produce realistic drizzle rates, but there are substantial quantitative differences in the cloud cover and liquid water path between models. The differences between the eddy-resolving model results are nearly as large as between the single column model results. The eddy resolving models give a more detailed picture of the boundary-layer evolution than the single-column models, but are still sensitive to the choice of microphysical and radiative parameterizations, sub-grid-scale turbulence models, and probably model resolution and dimensionality. One important example of the differences seen in these parameterizations is the absorption of solar radiation in a specified cloud layer, which varied by a factor of four between the model radiation parameterizations.

Cloud-topped boundary layers Stratocumulus Drizzle Cloud-radiation feedback Entrainment Large-eddy simulation