Microphysical investigation of the seeder and feeder region of an Alpine mixed-phase cloud.

Citation metadata

From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 9)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 362 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

The seeder-feeder mechanism has been observed to enhance orographic precipitation in previous studies. However, the microphysical processes active in the seeder and feeder region are still being understood. In this paper, we investigate the seeder and feeder region of a mixed-phase cloud passing over the Swiss Alps, focusing on (1) fallstreaks of enhanced radar reflectivity originating from cloud top generating cells (seeder region) and (2) a persistent low-level feeder cloud produced by the boundary layer circulation (feeder region). Observations were obtained from a multi-dimensional set of instruments including ground-based remote sensing instrumentation (Ka-band polarimetric cloud radar, microwave radiometer, wind profiler), in situ instrumentation on a tethered balloon system, and ground-based aerosol and precipitation measurements. The cloud radar observations suggest that ice formation and growth were enhanced within cloud top generating cells, which is consistent with previous observational studies. However, uncertainties exist regarding the dominant ice formation mechanism within these cells. Here we propose different mechanisms that potentially enhance ice nucleation and growth in cloud top generating cells (convective overshooting, radiative cooling, droplet shattering) and attempt to estimate their potential contribution from an ice nucleating particle perspective. Once ice formation and growth within the seeder region exceeded a threshold value, the mixed-phase cloud became fully glaciated. Local flow effects on the lee side of the mountain barrier induced the formation of a persistent low-level feeder cloud over a small-scale topographic feature in the inner-Alpine valley. In situ measurements within the low-level feeder cloud observed the production of secondary ice particles likely due to the Hallett-Mossop process and ice particle fragmentation upon ice-ice collisions. Therefore, secondary ice production may have been partly responsible for the elevated ice crystal number concentrations that have been previously observed in feeder clouds at mountaintop observatories. Secondary ice production in feeder clouds can potentially enhance orographic precipitation.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A660639546