Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



KEELER ET AL. 2879-2897

DOI: 10.1175/JAS-D-16-0314.1


2017 American Meteorological Society


Cloud-top generating cells (GCs) are a common feature atop stratiform clouds within the comma head of winter cyclones. The dynamics of cloud-top GCs are investigated using very high-resolution idealized WRF Model simulations to examine the role of shear in modulating the structure and intensity of GCs. Simulations were run for the same combinations of radiative forcing and instability as in Part II of this series, but with six different shear profiles ranging from 0 to 10ms21 km21 within the layer encompassing the GCs.

The primary role of shear was to modulate the organization of GCs, which organized as closed convective cells in simulations with radiative forcing and no shear. In simulations with shear and radiative forcing, GCs organized in linear streets parallel to the wind. No GCs developed in the initially stable simulations with no radiative forcing. In the initially unstable and neutral simulations with no radiative forcing or shear, GCs were exceptionally weak, with no clear organization. In moderate-shear (Du/Dz 5 2, 4ms21 km21) simulations with no radiative forcing, linear organization of the weak cells was apparent, but this organization was less coherent in simulations with high shear (Du/Dz 5 6, 8, 10ms21 km21). The intensity of the updrafts was primarily related to the mode of radiative forcing but was modulated by shear. The more intense GCs in nighttime simulations were either associated with no shear (closed convective cells) or strong shear (linear streets). Updrafts within GCs under conditions with radiative forcing were typically ;1–2 ms21 with maximum values , 4ms21.