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Numerical Simulation of Cloud–Clear Air Interfacial Mixing: Effects on Cloud Microphysics

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  • 1 Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
  • 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • 3 Institute of Geophysics, Warsaw University, Warsaw, Poland
  • 4 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This paper extends the previously published numerical study of Andrejczuk et al. on microscale cloud–clear air mixing. Herein, the primary interest is on microphysical transformations. First, a convergence study is performed—with well-resolved direct numerical simulation of the interfacial mixing in the limit—to optimize the design of a large series of simulations with varying physical parameters. The principal result is that all conclusions drawn from earlier low-resolution (Δx = 10−2 m) simulations are corroborated by the high-resolution (Δx = 0.25 × 10−2 m) calculations, including the development of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and the evolution of microphysical properties. This justifies the use of low resolution in a large set of sensitivity simulations, where microphysical transformations are investigated in response to variations of the initial volume fraction of cloudy air, TKE input, liquid water mixing ratio in cloudy filaments, relative humidity (RH) of clear air, and size of cloud droplets. The simulations demonstrate that regardless of the initial conditions the evolutions of the number of cloud droplets and the mean volume radius follow a universal path dictated by the TKE input, RH of clear air filaments, and the mean size of cloud droplets. The resulting evolution path only weakly depends on the progress of the homogenization. This is an important conclusion because it implies that a relatively simple rule can be developed for representing the droplet-spectrum evolution in cloud models that apply parameterized microphysics. For the low-TKE input, when most of the TKE is generated by droplet evaporation during mixing and homogenization, an inhomogeneous scenario is observed with approximately equal changes in the dimensionless droplet number and mean volume radius cubed. Consistent with elementary scale analysis, higher-TKE inputs, higher RH of cloud-free filaments, and larger cloud droplets enhance the homogeneity of mixing. These results are discussed in the context of observations of entrainment and mixing in natural clouds.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Miroslaw Andrejczuk, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS D401, Los Alamos, NM 87545. Email: miroslaw@lanl.gov

Abstract

This paper extends the previously published numerical study of Andrejczuk et al. on microscale cloud–clear air mixing. Herein, the primary interest is on microphysical transformations. First, a convergence study is performed—with well-resolved direct numerical simulation of the interfacial mixing in the limit—to optimize the design of a large series of simulations with varying physical parameters. The principal result is that all conclusions drawn from earlier low-resolution (Δx = 10−2 m) simulations are corroborated by the high-resolution (Δx = 0.25 × 10−2 m) calculations, including the development of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and the evolution of microphysical properties. This justifies the use of low resolution in a large set of sensitivity simulations, where microphysical transformations are investigated in response to variations of the initial volume fraction of cloudy air, TKE input, liquid water mixing ratio in cloudy filaments, relative humidity (RH) of clear air, and size of cloud droplets. The simulations demonstrate that regardless of the initial conditions the evolutions of the number of cloud droplets and the mean volume radius follow a universal path dictated by the TKE input, RH of clear air filaments, and the mean size of cloud droplets. The resulting evolution path only weakly depends on the progress of the homogenization. This is an important conclusion because it implies that a relatively simple rule can be developed for representing the droplet-spectrum evolution in cloud models that apply parameterized microphysics. For the low-TKE input, when most of the TKE is generated by droplet evaporation during mixing and homogenization, an inhomogeneous scenario is observed with approximately equal changes in the dimensionless droplet number and mean volume radius cubed. Consistent with elementary scale analysis, higher-TKE inputs, higher RH of cloud-free filaments, and larger cloud droplets enhance the homogeneity of mixing. These results are discussed in the context of observations of entrainment and mixing in natural clouds.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Miroslaw Andrejczuk, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS D401, Los Alamos, NM 87545. Email: miroslaw@lanl.gov

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