Convective cloud and rainfall processes over the Maritime Continent : simulation and analysis of the diurnal cycle
Author(s)Gianotti, Rebecca L. (Rebecca Louise)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Elfatih A. B. Eltahir.
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The Maritime Continent experiences strong moist convection, which produces significant rainfall and drives large fluxes of heat and moisture to the upper troposphere. Despite the importance of these processes to global circulations, current predictions of climate change over this region are still highly uncertain, largely due to inadequate representation of the diurnally-varying processes related to convection. In this work, a coupled numerical model of the land-atmosphere system (RegCM3-IBIS) is used to investigate how more physically-realistic representations of these processes can be incorporated into large-scale climate models. In particular, this work improves simulations of convective-radiative feedbacks and the role of cumulus clouds in mediating the diurnal cycle of rainfall. Three key contributions are made to the development of RegCM3-IBIS. Two pieces of work relate directly to the formation and dissipation of convective clouds: a new representation of convective cloud cover, and a new parameterization of convective rainfall production. These formulations only contain parameters that can be directly quantified from observational data, are independent of model user choices such as domain size or resolution, and explicitly account for subgrid variability in cloud water content and nonlinearities in rainfall production. The third key piece of work introduces a new method for representation of cloud formation within the boundary layer. A comprehensive evaluation of the improved model was undertaken using a range of satellite-derived and ground-based datasets, including a new dataset from Singapore's Changi airport that documents diurnal variation of the local boundary layer height. The performance of RegCM3-IBIS with the new formulations is greatly improved across all evaluation metrics, including cloud cover, cloud liquid water, radiative fluxes and rainfall, indicating consistent improvement in physical realism throughout the simulation. This work demonstrates that: (1) moist convection strongly influences the near surface environment by mediating the incoming solar radiation and net radiation at the surface; (2) dissipation of convective cloud via rainfall plays an equally important role in the convective-radiative feedback as the formation of that cloud; and (3) over parts of the Maritime Continent, rainfall is a product of diurnally-varying convective processes that operate at small spatial scales, on the order of 1 km.
Thesis (Ph. D. in the Field of Hydrology)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, February 2013."February 2013." Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 290-307).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Civil and Environmental Engineering.