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Probability Distributions of Angle of Approach and Relative Velocity for Colliding Droplets in a Turbulent Flow

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  • 1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, and Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • | 3 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware
  • | 4 Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Prediction of the effect of air turbulence on statistics relevant to a collision–coalescence process represents a key challenge in the modeling of cloud microphysics. In this paper, collision-related statistics for gravity-driven motion of droplets are considered and various probability distributions associated with geometric configuration and relative motion of colliding droplets are theoretically derived. The theoretical results agree well with numerical results obtained from direct numerical simulations (DNSs). In the absence of air turbulence, the probability distributions, calculated at the beginning of the time steps used for collision detection, nontrivially depend on the time step size. Next, a novel theory is developed to quantify the effect of turbulence on the angle-of-approach θ and radial relative velocity |wr,c| for colliding pairs. A logical decomposition is used to construct extended collision volumes for a specific level of radial motion caused by air turbulence. It is shown that the inward relative motion due to turbulent fluctuations dominates the effect of turbulence in modifying the probability distributions of θ and |wr,c|. Two key dimensionless parameters are identified in the theory: one measures the effect of finite time step size in numerical collision detection and the second measures the relative magnitude of air turbulence. The theory is compared with 11 numerical experiments from DNS. It is shown that the theory captures the essential physics of the effect of air turbulence and provides a quantitatively good representation of the statistics for θ. For most numerical experiments, the theory predicts 〈θ〉 to within 5%. The probability distribution of |wr,c| is more sensitive to the influence of air turbulence and shows larger intermittency at large |wr,c| than what is assumed in the theory. The theoretical framework developed here may be of value to other problems involving gravitational settling and weak turbulence, such as parameterization of collision kernel and hydrodynamic interactions of droplets in warm rain processes.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Dr. Lian-Ping Wang, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 126 Spencer Laboratory, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-3140. Email: lwang@udel.edu

Abstract

Prediction of the effect of air turbulence on statistics relevant to a collision–coalescence process represents a key challenge in the modeling of cloud microphysics. In this paper, collision-related statistics for gravity-driven motion of droplets are considered and various probability distributions associated with geometric configuration and relative motion of colliding droplets are theoretically derived. The theoretical results agree well with numerical results obtained from direct numerical simulations (DNSs). In the absence of air turbulence, the probability distributions, calculated at the beginning of the time steps used for collision detection, nontrivially depend on the time step size. Next, a novel theory is developed to quantify the effect of turbulence on the angle-of-approach θ and radial relative velocity |wr,c| for colliding pairs. A logical decomposition is used to construct extended collision volumes for a specific level of radial motion caused by air turbulence. It is shown that the inward relative motion due to turbulent fluctuations dominates the effect of turbulence in modifying the probability distributions of θ and |wr,c|. Two key dimensionless parameters are identified in the theory: one measures the effect of finite time step size in numerical collision detection and the second measures the relative magnitude of air turbulence. The theory is compared with 11 numerical experiments from DNS. It is shown that the theory captures the essential physics of the effect of air turbulence and provides a quantitatively good representation of the statistics for θ. For most numerical experiments, the theory predicts 〈θ〉 to within 5%. The probability distribution of |wr,c| is more sensitive to the influence of air turbulence and shows larger intermittency at large |wr,c| than what is assumed in the theory. The theoretical framework developed here may be of value to other problems involving gravitational settling and weak turbulence, such as parameterization of collision kernel and hydrodynamic interactions of droplets in warm rain processes.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Dr. Lian-Ping Wang, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, 126 Spencer Laboratory, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-3140. Email: lwang@udel.edu

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