A Bayesian approach for statistical–physical bulk parameterization of rain microphysics. Part I: Scheme description

Hugh Morrison, Marcus van Lier-Walqui, Matthew R. Kumjian, Olivier P. Prat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A new framework is proposed for the bulk parameterization of rain microphysics: the Bayesian Observationally Constrained Statistical–Physical Scheme (BOSS). It is designed to facilitate direct constraint by observations using Bayesian inference. BOSS combines existing process-level microphysical knowledge with flexible process rate formulations and parameters constrained by observations within a Bayesian framework. Using a raindrop size distribution (DSD) normalization method that relates DSD moments to one another via generalized power series, generalized multivariate power expressions are derived for the microphysical process rates as functions of a set of prognostic DSD moments. The scheme is flexible and can utilize any number and combination of prognostic moments and any number of terms in the process rate formulations. This means that both uncertainty in parameter values and structural uncertainty associated with the process rate formulations can be investigated systematically, which is not possible using traditional schemes. In this paper, BOSS is compared to two- and three-moment versions of a traditional bulk rain microphysics scheme (denoted as MORR). It is shown that some process formulations in MORR are analytically equivalent to the generalized power expressions in BOSS using one or two terms, while others are not. BOSS is able to replicate the behavior of MORR in idealized one-dimensional rainshaft tests, but with a much more flexible and systematic design. Part II of this study describes the application of BOSS to derive rain microphysical process rates and posterior parameter distributions in Bayesian experiments using Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling constrained by synthetic observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1041
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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