Convective processes play a critical role in the Earth's energy balance through the redistribution of heat and moisture in the atmosphere and their link to the hydrological cycle. Accurate representation of convective processes in numerical models is vital towards improving current and future simulations of Earths climate system. Despite improvements in computing power, current operational weather and global climate models are unable to resolve the natural temporal and spatial scales important to convective processes and therefore must turn to parameterization schemes to represent these processes. In turn, parameterization schemes in cloud-resolving models need to be evaluated for their generality and application to a variety of atmospheric conditions
The Midlatitude Continental Convective Cloud Experiment (MC3E), a joint field program involving ARM and NASA Global Precipitation Measurement Program investigators, was conducted in south-central Oklahoma during the April to June 2011 period. BNL scientists performed the roles of Principal Investigator (Jensen), Co-Investigator (Giangrande, Kollias) mission scientists (Jensen, Kollias), forecasting leads (Giangrande) and instrument Principal Investigators (Jensen, Kollias, Bartholomew). The experiment leveraged the unprecedented observing infrastructure available in the central United States, combined with an extensive sounding array, remote sensing and in situ aircraft observations, and new ARM radar instrumentation purchased with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The overarching goal was to provide the most complete characterization of convective cloud systems and their environment that had ever been obtained, providing constraints for model cumulus parameterizations that had never before been available. Several different components of convective processes tangible to the convective parameterization problem were targeted, such as pre-convective environment and convective initiation, updraft/downdraft dynamics, condensate transport and detrainment, precipitation and cloud microphysics, influence on the environment and radiation, and a detailed description of the large-scale forcing.