Quantifying the imprint of a severe Hector thunderstorm during ACTIVE/SCOUT-O3 onto the water content in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere
The development of a severe Hector thunderstorm that formed over the Tiwi Islands, north of Australia, during the Aerosol and Chemical Transport in Tropical Convection/Stratospheric-Climate Links with Emphasis on the Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere (ACTIVE/SCOUT-O3) field campaign in late 2005, is simulated by the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (ARW) model and the Met Office Unified Model (UM). The general aim of this paper is to investigate the role of isolated deep convection over the tropics in regulating the water content in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UT/LS). Using a horizontal resolution as fine as 1 km, the numerical simulations reproduce the timing, structure, and strength of Hector fairly well when compared with field campaign observations. The sensitivity of results from ARW to horizontal resolution is investigated by running the model in a large-eddy simulation mode with a horizontal resolution of 250 m. While refining the horizontal resolution to 250 m leads to a better representation of convection with respect to rainfall, the characteristics of the Hector thunderstorm are basically similar in space and time to those obtained in the 1-km-horizontal-resolution simulations. Several overshooting updrafts penetrating the tropopause are produced in the simulations during the mature stage of Hector. The penetration of rising towering cumulus clouds into the LS maintains the entrainment of air at the interface between the UT and the LS. Vertical exchanges resulting from this entrainment process have a significant impact on the redistribution of atmospheric constituents within the UT/LS region at the scale of the islands. In particular, a large amount of water is injected in the LS. The fate of the ice particles as Hector develops drives the water vapor mixing ratio to saturation by sublimation of the injected ice particles, moistening the air in the LS. The moistening was found to be fairly significant above 380 K and averaged about 0.06 ppmv in the range 380–420 K for ARW. As for UM, the moistening was found to be much larger (about 2.24 ppmv in the range of 380–420 K) than for ARW. This result confirms that convective transport can play an important role in regulating the water vapor mixing ratio in the LS.