The role of droplet sedimentation in the evolution of low-level clouds over southern West Africa
Abstract. Large-eddy simulations are performed to investigate the influence of cloud microphysics on the evolution of low-level clouds that form over southern West Africa during the monsoon season. We find that, even in clouds that are not precipitating, the size of cloud droplets has a non-negligible effect on liquid water path. This is explained through the effects of droplet sedimentation, which acts to remove liquid water from the entrainment zone close to cloud top, increasing the liquid water path. Sedimentation also produces a more heterogeneous cloud structure and lowers cloud base height. Our results imply that an appropriate parameterization of the effects of sedimentation is required to improve the representation of the diurnal cycle of the atmospheric boundary layer over southern West Africa in large-scale models.