Sensitivity of Numerical Simulations of a Mesoscale Convective System to Ice Hydrometeors in Bulk Microphysical Parameterization

Zhaoxia Pu, Chao Lin, Xiquan Dong, Steven K. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) and their associated cloud properties are the important factors that influence the aviation activities, yet they present a forecasting challenge in numerical weather prediction. In this study, the sensitivity of numerical simulations of an MCS over the US Southern Great Plains to ice hydrometeors in bulk microphysics (MP) schemes has been investigated using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. It is found that the simulated structure, life cycle, cloud coverage, and precipitation of the convective system as well as its associated cold pools are sensitive to three selected MP schemes, namely, the WRF single-moment 6-class (WSM6), WRF double-moment 6-class (WDM6, with the double-moment treatment of warm-rain only), and Morrison double-moment (MORR, with the double-moment representation of both warm-rain and ice) schemes. Compared with observations, the WRF simulation with WSM6 only produces a less organized convection structure with a short lifetime, while WDM6 can produce the structure and length of the MCS very well. Both simulations heavily underestimate the precipitation amount, the height of the radar echo top, and stratiform cloud fractions. With MORR, the model performs well in predicting the lifetime, cloud coverage, echo top, and precipitation amount of the convection. Overall results demonstrate the importance of including double-moment representation of ice hydrometeors along with warm-rain. Additional experiments are performed to further examine the role of ice hydrometeors in numerical simulations of the MCS. Results indicate that replacing graupel with hail in the MORR scheme improves the prediction of the convective structure, especially in the convective core region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2097-2120
Number of pages24
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Microphysical parameterization
  • WRF model
  • cloud
  • mesoscale convective systems
  • precipitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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