Spatial and temporal variability of clouds and precipitation over Germany: multiscale simulations across the "gray zone"
Abstract. This paper assesses the resolution dependance of clouds and precipitation over Germany by numerical simulations with the COnsortium for Small-scale MOdeling (COSMO) model. Six intensive observation periods of the HOPE (HD(CP)2 Observational Prototype Experiment) measurement campaign conducted in spring 2013 and 1 summer day of the same year are simulated. By means of a series of grid-refinement resolution tests (horizontal grid spacing 2.8, 1 km, 500, and 250 m), the applicability of the COSMO model to represent real weather events in the gray zone, i.e., the scale ranging between the mesoscale limit (no turbulence resolved) and the large-eddy simulation limit (energy-containing turbulence resolved), is tested. To the authors' knowledge, this paper presents the first non-idealized COSMO simulations in the peer-reviewed literature at the 250–500 m scale. It is found that the kinetic energy spectra derived from model output show the expected −5/3 slope, as well as a dependency on model resolution, and that the effective resolution lies between 6 and 7 times the nominal resolution. Although the representation of a number of processes is enhanced with resolution (e.g., boundary-layer thermals, low-level convergence zones, gravity waves), their influence on the temporal evolution of precipitation is rather weak. However, rain intensities vary with resolution, leading to differences in the total rain amount of up to +48 %. Furthermore, the location of rain is similar for the springtime cases with moderate and strong synoptic forcing, whereas significant differences are obtained for the summertime case with air mass convection. Domain-averaged liquid water paths and cloud condensate profiles are used to analyze the temporal and spatial variability of the simulated clouds. Finally, probability density functions of convection-related parameters are analyzed to investigate their dependance on model resolution and their impact on cloud formation and subsequent precipitation.