Investigations of boundary layer structure, cloud characteristics and vertical mixing of aerosols at Barbados with large eddy simulations
Abstract. Large eddy simulations (LESs) are performed for the area of the Caribbean island Barbados to investigate island effects on boundary layer modification, cloud generation and vertical mixing of aerosols. Due to the presence of a topographically structured island surface in the domain center, the model setup has to be designed with open lateral boundaries. In order to generate inflow turbulence consistent with the upstream marine boundary layer forcing, we use the cell perturbation method based on finite amplitude potential temperature perturbations. In this work, this method is for the first time tested and validated for moist boundary layer simulations with open lateral boundary conditions. Observational data obtained from the SALTRACE field campaign is used for both model initialization and a comparison with Doppler wind and Raman lidar data. Several numerical sensitivity tests are carried out to demonstrate the problems related to “gray zone modeling” when using coarser spatial grid spacings beyond the inertial subrange of three-dimensional turbulence or when the turbulent marine boundary layer flow is replaced by laminar winds. Especially cloud properties in the downwind area west of Barbados are markedly affected in these kinds of simulations. Results of an additional simulation with a strong trade-wind inversion reveal its effect on cloud layer depth and location. Saharan dust layers that reach Barbados via long-range transport over the North Atlantic are included as passive tracers in the model. Effects of layer thinning, subsidence and turbulent downward transport near the layer bottom at z ≈ 1800 m become apparent. The exact position of these layers and strength of downward mixing is found to be mainly controlled atmospheric stability (especially inversion strength) and wind shear. Comparisons of LES model output with wind lidar data show similarities in the downwind vertical wind structure. Additionally, the model results accurately reproduce the development of the daytime convective boundary layer measured by the Raman lidar.