Convective and Turbulent Motions in Nonprecipitating Cu. Part II: Les Simulated Cloud Represented by a Starting Plume

Mark Pinsky, Eshkol Eytan, Ilan Koren, Alexander Khain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The dynamic structure of a small trade wind cumulus (Cu) is analyzed using a novel approach. Cu developing in a shear-free environment is simulated by 10-m-resolution LES model with spectral bin microphysics. The aim is to clarify the dynamical nature of cloud updraft zone (CUZ) including entrainment and mixing in growing Cu. The validity of concept stating that a cloud at developing state can be represented by a parcel or a jet is tested. To investigate dynamical entrainment in CUZ performed by motions with scales larger than the turbulence scales, the modeled fields of air velocity were filtered by wavelet filter that separated convective motions from turbulent ones. Two types of objects in developing cloud were investigated: small volume ascending at maximal velocity (point parcel) and CUZ. It was found that the point parcel representing the upper part of cloud core is adiabatic. The motion of the air in this parcel ascending from cloud base determines cloud-top height. The top-hat (i.e., averaged) values of updraft velocity and adiabatic fraction in CUZ are substantially lower than those in the point parcel. Evaluation of the terms in the dynamical equation typically used in 1D cloud parcel models show that this equation can be applied for calculation of vertical velocities at the developing stage of small Cu, at least up to the heights of the inversion layer. Dynamically, the CUZ of developing cloud resembles the starting plume with the tail of nonstationary jet. Both the top-hat vertical velocity and buoyancy acceleration linearly increase with the height, at least up to the inversion layer. An important finding is that lateral entrainment of convective (nonturbulent) nature has a little effect on the top-hat CUZ velocity and cannot explain the vertical changes of conservative variables qt and θl. In contrast, entrained air lifting inside CUZ substantially decreases top-hat liquid water content and its adiabatic fraction. Possible reasons of these effects are discussed. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: (i) The study improves the understanding of the effects of lateral entrainment and mixing. (ii) The study shows the dominating role of the convective-scale motions in cloud microphysics and dynamics. (iii) The comparison of results of 10-m-resolution large-eddy simulations with a simple cloud model allows evaluating validity of current schemes of convective parameterization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)793-813
Number of pages21
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Meteorological Society.


  • Convective parameterization
  • Cumulus clouds
  • Large eddy simulations
  • Mixing


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