An evaluation of mass flux closures for diurnal cycles of shallow cumulus

R.A.J. Neggers, A.P. Siebesma, G. Lenderink, A.A.M. Holtslag

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Three closure methods for the mass flux at cloud base in shallow cumulus convection are critically examined for the difficult case of a diurnal cycle over land. The closure methods are first evaluated against large-eddy simulations (LESs) by diagnosing all parameters appearing in the closure equations during simulations of two different observed diurnal cycles of shallow cumulus. This reveals the characteristic behavior of each closure mechanism purely as a result of its core structure. With these results in hand the impact of each closure on the development of the cloudy boundary layer is then studied by its implementation in an offline single-column model of a regional atmospheric climate model. The LES results show that the boundary layer quasi-equilibrium closure typically overestimates the cloud-base mass flux after cloud onset, due to the neglect of significant moisture and temperature tendencies in the subcloud layer. The convective available potential energy (CAPE) adjustment closure is compromised by its limitation to compensating subsidence as the only CAPE breakdown mechanism and the use of a constant adjustment time scale. The closure method using the subcloud convective vertical velocity scale gives the best results, as it catches the time development of the cloud-base mass flux as diagnosed in LES.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2525-2538
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • large-eddy simulation
  • convective adjustment scheme
  • planetary boundary-layer
  • atmospheric radiation
  • cloud
  • parameterization
  • subcloud
  • model
  • heat
  • validation


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