The influence of clear air entrainment on the droplet effective radius of cloudy air parcels is investigated theoretically and experimentally by using data collected in 16 warm maritime tropical cumuli during the Joint Hawaii Warm Rain Project (1985).
The theoretical study consists of calculations of the droplet spectrum, droplet effective radius, and liquid water content performed by an entraining cloud parcel model for different entrainment-mixing scenarios. The numerical simulation results are interpreted by means of an analytic equation of the droplet effective radius expressed as a function of both the liquid water content and the droplet concentration.
In the experimental study, the behavior of the effective radius is examined at all scales as a function of the liquid water content, used as a dilution degree indicator. At a given cloud level, in the absence of secondary droplet activation, the effective radius of the droplet spectrum of small-scale parcels (10-Hz data) is roughly independent of the liquid water content and appears unaffected by entrainment. In contrast, if secondary droplet activation occurs in diluted ascending cloud parcels, a wide range of effective radius values is observed for a given liquid water content as a result of the induced variation of the droplet concentration. Further, mean cloud pass effective radii increase with increasing mean pass liquid water contents and mean pass height above cloud base.
The results limit the validity of the classical cloud effective radius parameterizations used in the radiative transfer calculations in climate models and some suggestions to improve these parameterizations are presented.