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Article

The Spiderweb Structure of Stratocumulus Clouds

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
2
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2020, 11(7), 730; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070730
Received: 4 June 2020 / Revised: 23 June 2020 / Accepted: 25 June 2020 / Published: 8 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turbulent Transport in Atmospheric Boundary Layers)
Stratocumulus clouds have a distinctive structure composed of a combination of lumpy cellular structures and thin elongated regions, resembling canyons or slits. The elongated slits are referred to as “spiderweb” structure to emphasize their interconnected nature. Using very high resolution large-eddy simulations (LES), it is shown that the spiderweb structure is generated by cloud-top evaporative cooling. Analysis of liquid water path (LWP) and cloud liquid water content shows that cloud-top evaporative cooling generates relatively shallow slits near the cloud top. Most of liquid water mass is concentrated near the cloud top, thus cloud-top slits of clear air have a large impact on the entire-column LWP. When evaporative cooling is suppressed in the LES, LWP exhibits cellular lumpy structure without the elongated low-LWP regions. Even though the spiderweb signature on the LWP distribution is negligible, the cloud-top evaporative cooling process significantly affects integral boundary layer quantities, such as the vertically integrated turbulent kinetic energy, mean liquid water path, and entrainment rate. In a pair of simulations driven only by cloud-top radiative cooling, evaporative cooling nearly doubles the entrainment rate. View Full-Text
Keywords: stratocumulus clouds; cloud holes; cloud-top evaporative cooling; buoyancy reversal; large-eddy simulation; AirMSPI stratocumulus clouds; cloud holes; cloud-top evaporative cooling; buoyancy reversal; large-eddy simulation; AirMSPI
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MDPI and ACS Style

Matheou, G.; Davis, A.B.; Teixeira, J. The Spiderweb Structure of Stratocumulus Clouds. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070730

AMA Style

Matheou G, Davis AB, Teixeira J. The Spiderweb Structure of Stratocumulus Clouds. Atmosphere. 2020; 11(7):730. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070730

Chicago/Turabian Style

Matheou, Georgios, Anthony B. Davis, and João Teixeira. 2020. "The Spiderweb Structure of Stratocumulus Clouds" Atmosphere 11, no. 7: 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11070730

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