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Project Cloud09
Research Area Earth Sciences
Principal Investigator(s) Jörg Schumacher
  • Technische Universität Ilmenau, Institute for Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, Germany
  • New York University, Center for Atmospheric and Ocean Science, USA
  • International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy


Moist convection is an extremely complex physical process involving the turbulent fluid motion and the complicated thermodynamics of phase changes. It is an ubiquitous feature of the Earth’s atmosphere, manifesting itself through the various clouds observed every day around the globe. The combination of turbulence and thermodynamics makes moist convection a particularly difficult physical problem. Its necessary parametrization in global atmospheric models remains a major source of uncertainty for prediction of future climate change. In this project, we will study moist convection in an idealized setting using piecewise linear thermodynamics. Our focus is to simplify the thermodynamics but to fully resolve the turbulence in the presence of phase changes. Our model will compare the behaviour of moist convection with the well-known case of dry convection and analyze the formation, the lifetimes and the statistics of shapes of clouds. The targeted fine spectral resolution allows for a detailed study of the impact of moisture on the turbulent heat transport through the layer and the small-scale structure of turbulence. Our results will suggest new strategies for coarse-grained parametrizations in global climate models.

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