Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
Model description paper
13 Jan 2017
Model description paper |  | 13 Jan 2017

UCLALES–SALSA v1.0: a large-eddy model with interactive sectional microphysics for aerosol, clouds and precipitation

Juha Tonttila, Zubair Maalick, Tomi Raatikainen, Harri Kokkola, Thomas Kühn, and Sami Romakkaniemi

Abstract. Challenges in understanding the aerosol–cloud interactions and their impacts on global climate highlight the need for improved knowledge of the underlying physical processes and feedbacks as well as their interactions with cloud and boundary layer dynamics. To pursue this goal, increasingly sophisticated cloud-scale models are needed to complement the limited supply of observations of the interactions between aerosols and clouds. For this purpose, a new large-eddy simulation (LES) model, coupled with an interactive sectional description for aerosols and clouds, is introduced. The new model builds and extends upon the well-characterized UCLA Large-Eddy Simulation Code (UCLALES) and the Sectional Aerosol module for Large-Scale Applications (SALSA), hereafter denoted as UCLALES-SALSA. Novel strategies for the aerosol, cloud and precipitation bin discretisation are presented. These enable tracking the effects of cloud processing and wet scavenging on the aerosol size distribution as accurately as possible, while keeping the computational cost of the model as low as possible. The model is tested with two different simulation set-ups: a marine stratocumulus case in the DYCOMS-II campaign and another case focusing on the formation and evolution of a nocturnal radiation fog. It is shown that, in both cases, the size-resolved interactions between aerosols and clouds have a critical influence on the dynamics of the boundary layer. The results demonstrate the importance of accurately representing the wet scavenging of aerosol in the model. Specifically, in a case with marine stratocumulus, precipitation and the subsequent removal of cloud activating particles lead to thinning of the cloud deck and the formation of a decoupled boundary layer structure. In radiation fog, the growth and sedimentation of droplets strongly affect their radiative properties, which in turn drive new droplet formation. The size-resolved diagnostics provided by the model enable investigations of these issues with high detail. It is also shown that the results remain consistent with UCLALES (without SALSA) in cases where the dominating physical processes remain well represented by both models.

Short summary
Novel techniques for modelling the aerosol–cloud interactions are implemented in a cloud-resolving model. The new methods improve the representation of the poorly constrained effects of cloud processing, precipitation and the wet removal of particles on the aerosol population and the associated feedbacks. The detailed representation of these processes yields more realistic simulation of the evolution of boundary layer clouds and fogs, as compared to results obtained using more simple methods.