3 years ago

The Influence of Aerosol Hygroscopicity on Precipitation Intensity During a Mesoscale Convective Event

Allison L. Steiner, Stacey Kawecki
We examine how aerosol composition affects precipitation intensity using the Weather and Research Forecasting Model with Chemistry (version 3.6). By changing the prescribed default hygroscopicity values to updated values from laboratory studies, we test model assumptions about individual component hygroscopicity values of ammonium, sulfate, nitrate, and organic species. We compare a baseline simulation (BASE, using default hygroscopicity values) with four sensitivity simulations (SULF, increasing the sulfate hygroscopicity; ORG, decreasing organic hygroscopicity; SWITCH, using a concentration-dependent hygroscopicity value for ammonium; and ALL, including all three changes) to understand the role of aerosol composition on precipitation during a mesoscale convective system (MCS). Overall, the hygroscopicity changes influence the spatial patterns of precipitation and the intensity. Focusing on the maximum precipitation in the model domain downwind of an urban area, we find that changing the individual component hygroscopicities leads to bulk hygroscopicity changes, especially in the ORG simulation. Reducing bulk hygroscopicity (e.g., ORG simulation) initially causes fewer activated drops, weakened updrafts in the midtroposphere, and increased precipitation from larger hydrometeors. Increasing bulk hygroscopicity (e.g., SULF simulation) simulates more numerous and smaller cloud drops and increases precipitation. In the ALL simulation, a stronger cold pool and downdrafts lead to precipitation suppression later in the MCS evolution. In this downwind region, the combined changes in hygroscopicity (ALL) reduces the overprediction of intense events (>70 mm d−1) and better captures the range of moderate intensity (30–60 mm d−1) events. The results of this single MCS analysis suggest that aerosol composition can play an important role in simulating high-intensity precipitation events.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/2017JD026535

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