Articles | Volume 13, issue 19
Research article
08 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 08 Oct 2013

Aircraft observations of cold pools under marine stratocumulus

C. R. Terai and R. Wood

Abstract. Although typically associated with precipitating cumuli, cold pools also form under shallower stratocumulus. This study presents cold-pool observations as sampled by the NSF/NCAR C-130, which made cloud and boundary-layer measurements over the southeast Pacific stratocumulus region at an altitude of approximately 150 m during the VOCALS Regional Experiment. Ninety edges of cold pools are found in the C-130 measurements by identifying step-like changes in the potential temperature. Examination of their mesoscale environment shows that the observed cold pools tend to form under heavier precipitation, thicker clouds, and in cleaner environments. Cold pools are also found to form under clouds with high LWP values over the night of or before sampling. When they form, cold pools often form in clusters or on top of each other, rather than as separate, individual entities. Their sizes range from 2 km to 16 km (middle 50th percentile), where the largest of cold pools are associated with the greatest drops in temperature. Composites of various observed thermodynamic and chemical variables along the cold-pool edges indicate increased humidity, equivalent potential temperature, coarse-mode aerosol, and dimethyl sulfide concentration inside cold pools. The enhancements inside cold pools are consistent with increased static stability that traps fluxes from the ocean surface in the lowest levels of the boundary layer. By using pressure perturbations, the average cold pool is estimated to be approximately 300 m deep. The temperature depression in cold pools also leads to density-driven flows that drive convergence of horizontal winds and measurable, mechanically driven vertical wind velocity at the edges of cold pools.

Final-revised paper