Articles | Volume 18, issue 19
Research article
09 Oct 2018
Research article |  | 09 Oct 2018

The role of droplet sedimentation in the evolution of low-level clouds over southern West Africa

Christopher Dearden, Adrian Hill, Hugh Coe, and Tom Choularton

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.

Short summary
We perform computer simulations of the life cycle of low-lying clouds over southern West Africa during the monsoon season. Such clouds tend not to produce much precipitation, but they do affect the regional climate by modifying the amount of sunlight reaching the surface. The aim of this work is to understand the factors that influence the growth and break-up of these clouds. We show that the number of water droplets contained within the clouds affects how quickly they dissipate.
Final-revised paper