Parameterization of vertical profiles of governing microphysical parameters of shallow cumulus cloud ensembles using LES with bin microphysics

Pavel Khain*, Reuven Heiblum, Ulrich Blahak, Yoav Levi, Harel Muskatel, Elyakom Vadislavsky, Orit Altaratz, Ilan Koren, Guy Dagan, Jacob Shpund, Alexander Khain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Shallow convection is a subgrid process in cloud-resolving models for which their grid box is larger than the size of small cumulus clouds (Cu). At the same time such Cu substantially affect radiation properties and thermodynamic parameters of the low atmosphere. The main microphysical parameters used for calculation of radiative properties of Cu in cloud-resolving models are liquid water content (LWC), effective droplet radius, and cloud fraction (CF). In this study, these parameters of fields of small, warm Cu are calculated using large-eddy simulations (LESs) performed using the System for Atmospheric Modeling (SAM) with spectral bin microphysics. Despite the complexity of microphysical processes, several fundamental properties of Cu were found. First, despite the high variability of LWC and droplet concentration within clouds and between different clouds, the volume mean and effective radii per specific level vary only slightly. Second, the values of effective radius are close to those forming during adiabatic ascent of air parcels from cloud base. These findings allow for characterization of a cloud field by specific vertical profiles of effective radius and of mean liquid water content, which can be calculated using the theoretical profile of adiabatic liquid water content and the droplet concentration at cloud base. Using the results of these LESs, a simple parameterization of cloud-field-averaged vertical profiles of effective radius and of liquid water content is proposed for different aerosol and thermodynamic conditions. These profiles can be used for calculation of radiation properties of Cu fields in large-scale models. The role of adiabatic processes in the formation of microstructure of Cu is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)533-560
Number of pages28
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Meteorological Society.


  • Aerosol-cloud interaction
  • Cloud microphysics
  • Cloud parameterizations
  • Cloud resolving models
  • Large eddy simulations
  • Subgrid-scale processes


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