Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

The Sensitivity of Atmospheric Water Isotopes to Entrainment and Precipitation Efficiency in a Bulk Plume Model of Convection

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 09:00
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Atmospheric water isotopes have been proposed as potentially powerful constraints on the physics of convective clouds and parameterizations of convective processes in models. We have previously derived an analytical model of water vapor (H2O) and one of its heavy isotopes (HDO) in convective environments based on a bulk-plume convective water budget in radiative convective equilibrium. This analytical model provides a useful starting point for examining the joint responses of water vapor and its isotopic composition to changes in convective parameters; however, certain idealistic assumptions are required to make the model analytically solvable. Here, we develop a more flexible numerical framework that enables a wider range of model configurations and includes additional isotopic tracers. This model provides a bridge between Rayleigh distillation, which is simple but inflexible, and more complicated convection schemes and cloud resolving models, which are more realistic but also more difficult to perturb and interpret. Application of realistic in-cloud water profiles in our model produces vertical distributions of δD
that qualitatively match satellite observations from the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES). We test the sensitivity of water vapor and its isotopic composition to a wide range of perturbations in the model parameters and their vertical profiles. In this presentation, we focus especially on establishing constraints for convective entrainment and precipitation efficiency
. We conclude by discussing the potential application of this model as part of a larger water isotope toolkit for use with offline diagnostics provided by reanalyses and GCMs.

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