Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

WRF nested large-eddy simulations of deep convection during SEAC4RS
by Heath, Nicholas Kyle, Ph.D., The Florida State University, 2015, 109; 10000631
Abstract (Summary)

Deep convection is an important component of atmospheric circulations that affects many aspects of weather and climate. Therefore, improved understanding and realistic simulations of deep convection are critical to both operational and climate forecasts. Large-eddy simulations (LESs) often are used with observations to enhance understanding of convective processes. This study develops and evaluates a nested-LES method using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Our goal is to evaluate the extent to which the WRF nested-LES approach is useful for studying deep convection during a real-world case. The method was applied on 2 September 2013, a day of continental convection having a robust set of ground and airborne data available for evaluation. A three domain mesoscale WRF simulation is run first. Then, the finest mesoscale output (1.35 km grid length) is used to separately drive nested-LES domains with grid lengths of 450 and 150 m. Results reveal that the nested-LES approach reasonably simulates a broad spectrum of observations, from reflectivity distributions to vertical velocity profiles, during the study period. However, reducing the grid spacing does not necessarily improve results for our case, with the 450 m simulation outperforming the 150 m version. We find that simulated updrafts in the 150 m simulation are too narrow to overcome the negative effects of entrainment, thereby generating convection that is weaker than observed. Increasing the sub-grid mixing length in the 150 m simulation leads to deeper, more realistic convection, but comes at the expense of delaying the onset of the convection. Overall, results show that both the 450 m and 150 m simulations are influenced considerably by the choice of sub-grid mixing length used in the LES turbulence closure. Finally, the simulations and observations are used to study the processes forcing strong midlevel cloud-edge downdrafts that were observed on 2 September. Results suggest that these downdrafts are forced by evaporative cooling due to mixing near cloud edge and by vertical perturbation pressure gradient forces acting to restore mass continuity around neighboring updrafts. We conclude that the WRF nested-LES approach provides an effective method for studying deep convection for our real-world case. The method can be used to provide insight into physical processes that are important to understanding observations. The WRF nested-LES approach could be adapted for other case studies in which high-resolution observations are available for validation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fuelberg, Henry E.
Commitee: Bourassa, Mark A., Hart, Robert E., Misra, Vasu, Turk, Francis J., Wiedenhoever, Ingo
School: The Florida State University
Department: Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Science
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 77/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Meteorology, Atmospheric sciences
Keywords: Convective dynamics, Deep convection, Large-eddy simulation, Weather research and forecasting
Publication Number: 10000631
ISBN: 9781339410579
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