Exploring stratocumulus cloud-top entrainment processes and parameterizations by using doppler cloud radar observations

Bruce Albrecht, Ming Fang, Virendra Ghate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Observations made at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program's Southern Great Plains (SGP) site during uniform nonprecipitating stratocumulus cloud conditions for a 14-h period are used to examine cloud-top entrainment processes and parameterizations. The observations from a vertically pointing Doppler cloud radar provide estimates of vertical velocity variance and energy dissipation rate (EDR) terms in the parameterized turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) budget of the entrainment zone. Hourly averages of the vertical velocity variance term in the TKE entrainment formulation correlated strongly (r = 0.72) with the dissipation rate term in the entrainment zone, with an increased correlation (r = 0.92) when accounting for the nighttime decoupling of the boundary layer. Independent estimates of entrainment rates were obtained from an inversion-height budget using the local time derivative and horizontal advection of cloud-top height together with large-scale vertical velocity at the boundary layer inversion from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis model. The mean entrainment rate from the inversion-height budget during the 14-h period was 0.74 ± 0.15 cm s-1 and was used to calculate bulk coefficients for entrainment parameterizations based on convective velocity scale w* and TKE budgets of the entrainment zone. The hourly values of entrainment rates calculated using these coefficients exhibited good agreement with those calculated from the inversion-height budget associated with substantial changes in surface buoyancy production and cloud-top radiative cooling. The results indicate a strong potential for making entrainment rate estimates directly from radar vertical velocity variance and the EDR measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-742
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Atm/ocean structure/phenomena
  • Boundary layer
  • Circulation/dynamics
  • Clouds
  • Entrainment
  • Observational techniques and algorithms
  • Radars/radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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