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Convective Instability Underneath Midlevel Clouds: Comparisons between Numerical Simulations and VHF Radar Observations

Abstract : Deep turbulent layers can sometimes be observed on the underside of clouds that extend above upper-level frontal zones. In a recent study based on 3-D numerical simulations with idealized initial conditions, it was found that mid-level cloud-base turbulence (MCT) can result from Rayleigh-Bénard-like convection due to cooling by sublimation of precipitating snow into dry and weakly stratified subcloud layers. In the present study, numerically simulated MCT were compared with a turbulent layer detected by the very high frequency (VHF) middle and upper atmosphere (MU) radar during the passage of an upper-level front topped by clouds. The simulations were initialized with thermodynamic parameters derived from simultaneous radiosonde data. It was found that some important features of the simulated MCT (such as the scale of convection and vertical wind velocity perturbations) agreed quantitatively well with those reported in radar observations. Even if the possibility of other generation mechanisms cannot be ruled out, the good agreement strongly suggests that the MU radar actually detected MCT.
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Atsushi Kudo, Hubert Luce, Hiroyuki Hashiguchi, Richard Wilson. Convective Instability Underneath Midlevel Clouds: Comparisons between Numerical Simulations and VHF Radar Observations. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, American Meteorological Society, 2015, 54 (11), pp.2217-2227. ⟨10.1175/JAMC-D-15-0101.1⟩. ⟨insu-01198441⟩

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