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Dominant cloud microphysical processes of a torrential rainfall event in Sichuan, China


High-resolution numerical simulation data of a rainstorm triggering debris flow in Sichuan Province of China simulated by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model were used to study the dominant cloud microphysical processes of the torrential rainfall. The results showed that: (1) In the strong precipitation period, particle sizes of all hydrometeors increased, and mean-mass diameters of graupel increased the most significantly, as compared with those in the weak precipitation period; (2) The terminal velocity of raindrops was the strongest among all hydrometeors, followed by graupel’s, which was much smaller than that of raindrops. Differences between various hydrometeors’ terminal velocities in the strong precipitation period were larger than those in the weak precipitation period, which favored relative motion, collection interaction and transformation between the particles. Absolute terminal velocity values of raindrops and graupel were significantly greater than those of air upward velocity, and the stronger the precipitation was, the greater the differences between them were; (3) The orders of magnitudes of the various hydrometeors’ sources and sinks in the strong precipitation period were larger than those in the weak precipitation period, causing a difference in the intensity of precipitation. Water vapor, cloud water, raindrops, graupel and their exchange processes played a major role in the production of the torrential rainfall, and there were two main processes via which raindrops were generated: abundant water vapor condensed into cloud water and, on the one hand, accretion of cloud water by rain water formed rain water, while on the other hand, accretion of cloud water by graupel formed graupel, and then the melting of graupel formed rain water.

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Correspondence to Xiaopeng Cui.

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Huang, Y., Cui, X. Dominant cloud microphysical processes of a torrential rainfall event in Sichuan, China. Adv. Atmos. Sci. 32, 389–400 (2015).

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Key words

  • torrential rainfall
  • Sichuan
  • cloud microphysical processes
  • numerical simulation