loading page

Dependencies of Simulated Convective Cell and System Growth Biases on Atmospheric Instability and Model Resolution
  • +3
  • Zhixiao Zhang,
  • Adam Varble,
  • Zhe Feng,
  • James Marquis,
  • Joseph Clinton Hardin,
  • Edward J. Zipser
Zhixiao Zhang
University of Oxford
Author Profile
Adam Varble
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Zhe Feng
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (DOE)
Author Profile
James Marquis
Author Profile
Joseph Clinton Hardin
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (DOE)
Author Profile
Edward J. Zipser
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Author Profile


This study evaluates convective cell properties and their relationships with convective and stratiform rainfall within a season-long convection-permitting simulation over central Argentina using measurements from the RELAMPAGO-CACTI field campaign. While the simulation reproduces the total observed rainfall, it underestimates stratiform rainfall by 46% and overestimates convective rainfall by 43%. As Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) increases, the overestimation of convective rainfall decreases, but the underestimation of stratiform rainfall increases such that the high bias in the contribution of convective rainfall to total rainfall remains approximately constant at 26% across all CAPE conditions. Overestimated convective rainfall arises from the simulation generating 2.6 times more convective cells than observed despite similar observed and simulated cell growth processes, with relatively wide cells contributing most to excessive convective rainfall. Relatively shallow cells, typically reaching heights of 4–7 km, contribute most to the cell number bias. This bias increases as CAPE decreases, potentially because cells and their updrafts become narrower and more under-resolved as CAPE decreases. The gross overproduction of shallow cells leads to overly efficient precipitation and inadequate detrainment of ice aloft, thereby diminishing the formation of robust stratiform rainfall regions. Decreasing the model’s horizontal grid spacing from 3 to 1 or 0.333 km for representative low and high CAPE cases results in minimal change to the cell number and depth biases, while the stratiform and convective rainfall biases also fail to improve. This suggests that improving prediction of deep convective system growth depends on factors beyond solely increasing model resolution.
05 Mar 2024Submitted to ESS Open Archive
13 Mar 2024Published in ESS Open Archive