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Rain Evaporation, Snow Melt, and Entrainment at the Heart of Water Vapor Isotopic Variations in the Tropical Troposphere, According to Large Eddy Simulations and a Two Column Model

Abstract : We aim at developing a simple model as an interpretative framework for the water vapor isotopic variations in the tropical troposphere over the ocean. We use large eddy simulations of disorganized convection in radiative convective equilibrium to justify the underlying assumptions of this simple model, to constrain its input parameters and to evaluate its results. We also aim at interpreting the depletion of the water vapor isotopic composition in the lower and midtroposphere as precipitation increases, which is a salient feature in tropical oceanic observations. This feature constitutes a stringent test on the relevance of our interpretative framework. Previous studies, based on observations or on models with parameterized convection, have highlighted the roles of deep convective and mesoscale downdrafts, rain evaporation, rain vapor diffusive exchanges, and mixing processes. The interpretative framework that we develop, valid in case of disorganized convection, is a two column model representing the net ascent in clouds and the net descent in the environment. We show that the mechanisms for depleting the troposphere as the precipitation rate increases all stem from the higher tropospheric relative humidity. First, when the relative humidity is larger, less snow sublimates before melting and a smaller fraction of rain evaporates. Both effects lead to more depleted rain evaporation and eventually more depleted water vapor. This mechanism dominates in regimes of large scale ascent. Second, the entrainment of dry air into clouds reduces the vertical isotopic gradient and limits the depletion of tropospheric water vapor. This mechanism dominates in regimes of large scale descent.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 28, 2022 - 3:33:37 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, August 3, 2022 - 4:00:10 AM

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Camille Risi, Caroline Muller, Peter Blossey. Rain Evaporation, Snow Melt, and Entrainment at the Heart of Water Vapor Isotopic Variations in the Tropical Troposphere, According to Large Eddy Simulations and a Two Column Model. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 2021, 13, ⟨10.1029/2020MS002381⟩. ⟨insu-03726950⟩

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