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Understanding the Importance of Microphysics and Macrophysics for Warm Rain in...

Kubar, T. L., D. Hartmann, and R. Wood (2009), Understanding the Importance of Microphysics and Macrophysics for Warm Rain in Marine Low Clouds. Part I: Satellite Observations, J. Atmos. Sci., 66, 2953-2972, doi:10.1175/2009JAS3071.1.
Abstract: 

The importance of macrophysical variables [cloud thickness, liquid water path (LWP)] and microphysical variables (effective radius re, effective droplet concentration Neff) on warm drizzle intensity and frequency across the tropics and subtropics is studied. In this first part of a two-part study, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) optical and CloudSat cloud radar data are used to understand warm rain in marine clouds. Part II uses simple heuristic models. Cloud-top height and LWP substantially increase as drizzle intensity increases. Droplet radius estimated from MODIS also increases with cloud radar reflectivity (dBZ) but levels off as dBZ . 0, except where the influence of continental pollution is present, in which case a monotonic increase of re with drizzle intensity occurs. Off the Asian coast and over the Gulf of Mexico, re values are smaller (by several mm) and Neff values are larger compared to more remote marine regions. For heavy drizzle intensity, both re and Neff values off the Asian coast and over the Gulf of Mexico approach re and Neff values in more remote marine regions.

Drizzle frequency, defined as profiles in which maximum dBZ . 215, increases dramatically and nearly uniformly when cloud tops grow from 1 to 2 km. Drizzle frequencies exceed 90% in all regions when LWPs exceed 250 g m22 and Neff values are below 50 cm23, even in regions where drizzle occurs infrequently on the whole. The fact that the relationship among drizzle frequency, LWP, and Neff is essentially the same for all regions suggests a near universality among tropical and subtropical regions.

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