Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Mechanistic Understanding of North American Monsoon and Microphysical Properties of Ice Particles
by Erfani, Ehsan, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno, 2016, 236; 10161282
Abstract (Summary)

A mechanistic understanding of the North American Monsoon (NAM) is suggested by incorporating local- and synoptic-scale processes. The local-scale mechanism describes the effect sea surface temperature (SST) in Gulf of California (GC) and how it contributes to the low-level moisture during the 2004 NAM. Before NAM onset, the strong low-level temperature inversion exists over the GC, but this inversion weakens with increasing GC SST and generally disappears once SSTs exceed 29.5°C, allowing the moist air, trapped in the MBL, to mix with free tropospheric air. This leads to a deep, moist layer that can be transported toward the NAM regions to produce thunderstorms. The synoptic scale mechanism is based on climatologies from 1983 to 2010 and explains that the warmest SSTs moving up the coast contributes to NAM convection and atmospheric heating, and consequently advancing the position of the anticyclone and the region of descent northward.

In order to improve microphysical properties of ice clouds, this study develops self-consistent second order polynomial mass- and projected area-dimension (m-D and A-D) expressions that are valid over a much larger size range, compared to traditional power laws. Such expressions can easily be reduced to power laws for the size range of interest, in order to use in cloud and climate models. This was done by combining field measurements of individual ice particle m and D with airborne optical probe measurements of D, A and estimates of m. The resulting m-D and A-D expressions are functions of temperature and cloud type (synoptic vs. anvil), and are in good agreement with m-D power laws developed from recent field studies. These expressions also appear representative for heavily rimed dendrites occurring over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. By using the m-D field measurements of rimed and unrimed particles, and by developing theoretical methods, an approach was suggested for calculating rimed m and A, which has the benefit of accounting for the degree of riming, and therefore it produces a gradual and continuous growth from unrimed ice particles to graupel. The treatment for riming includes a parameterization for collision efficiency as a function of droplet size and ice particle size using the available numerical studies.

A rimed snow growth model (RSGM) was developed based on the growth processes of vapor diffusion, aggregation, and riming. The RSGM uses a measured radar reflectivity at cloud top for initialization, and then predicts the vertical evolution of size spectra. The RSGM is based on the zeroth- and second- moment conservation equations with respect to mass, and thus conserves the number concentration and radar reflectivity, respectively. The size spectra predicted by the RSGM are in good agreement with observed spectra during Lagrangian spiral descents through frontal clouds. The snowfall rate with the inclusion of riming is significantly greater than that produced by the vapor deposition and aggregation alone. Snowfall rates are found to be sensitive to the cloud drop size distribution.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mitchell, David L.
Commitee: Arnott, William P., Harrington, Jerry Y., Mejia, John F., Wilcox, Eric M.
School: University of Nevada, Reno
Department: Atmospheric Sciences
School Location: United States -- Nevada
Source: DAI-B 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Climate Change, Meteorology, Atmospheric sciences
Keywords: Area dimension relationship, Mass dimension relationship, North american monsoon, Riming, Sea surface temperature, Snow growth model
Publication Number: 10161282
ISBN: 978-1-369-16164-9
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