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Effects of Pressure on Collision, Coalescence, and Breakup of Raindrops. Part I: Experiments at 50 kPa

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  • 1 Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • | 2 Environmental Protection Department, Hong Kong, China
  • | 3 Environment Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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Abstract

Previous breakup experiments have been carried out at laboratory pressures (∼100 kPa). However, raindrop interactions mainly take place higher up in the atmosphere, even in the supercooled part of a cloud where drops can be initiated by shedding from hailstones. Thus, 50 kPa, corresponding to a height of ∼5.5 km in the atmosphere at a temperature of ∼−20°C, was selected to bracket the region of interest for rain. Six drop pairs were studied at 50 kPa and laboratory temperature (∼20°C), one of them with reduced surface tension.

The apparatus consists of drop-producing nozzles, acceleration systems, deflectors, a timing and selection control, a pressure regulator, and a photographic unit, mostly set up in a low-pressure chamber. After acceleration to terminal speed, a smaller drop is blown into the path of the larger one while an electronic timing system selects suitable drop pairs that may collide, thereby triggering eight subsequent flashes with a frequency of up to 100 kHz. The results are displayed in terms of a normalized fragment probability per size bin, ready for parameterization in the Part II of this paper.

Five drop pairs were studied in 772 individual events. Overall, 51% resulted in filament breakup, 22% in sheet breakup, 7% in disk breakup, and 20% ended in coalescence. No bag breakups were observed. When compared to the 100-kPa results, the fragment numbers increased at large collision kinetic energies (CKEs) by factors of between 2.64 and 4.37 with pressure decreasing from 100 to 50 kPa, and they remained unchanged at low CKE. Detailed diagrams and tables show the results for the different drop pairs and collision categories. Increasing the sensitivity of the optical measurements from 0.05 to 0.01 cm increased the number of recognized fragments by factors up to 4.4, but only for the two higher-CKE cases. The higher resolution did not increase the fragment numbers detected in the lower-CKE range.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Roland List, Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada. Email: list@atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca

Abstract

Previous breakup experiments have been carried out at laboratory pressures (∼100 kPa). However, raindrop interactions mainly take place higher up in the atmosphere, even in the supercooled part of a cloud where drops can be initiated by shedding from hailstones. Thus, 50 kPa, corresponding to a height of ∼5.5 km in the atmosphere at a temperature of ∼−20°C, was selected to bracket the region of interest for rain. Six drop pairs were studied at 50 kPa and laboratory temperature (∼20°C), one of them with reduced surface tension.

The apparatus consists of drop-producing nozzles, acceleration systems, deflectors, a timing and selection control, a pressure regulator, and a photographic unit, mostly set up in a low-pressure chamber. After acceleration to terminal speed, a smaller drop is blown into the path of the larger one while an electronic timing system selects suitable drop pairs that may collide, thereby triggering eight subsequent flashes with a frequency of up to 100 kHz. The results are displayed in terms of a normalized fragment probability per size bin, ready for parameterization in the Part II of this paper.

Five drop pairs were studied in 772 individual events. Overall, 51% resulted in filament breakup, 22% in sheet breakup, 7% in disk breakup, and 20% ended in coalescence. No bag breakups were observed. When compared to the 100-kPa results, the fragment numbers increased at large collision kinetic energies (CKEs) by factors of between 2.64 and 4.37 with pressure decreasing from 100 to 50 kPa, and they remained unchanged at low CKE. Detailed diagrams and tables show the results for the different drop pairs and collision categories. Increasing the sensitivity of the optical measurements from 0.05 to 0.01 cm increased the number of recognized fragments by factors up to 4.4, but only for the two higher-CKE cases. The higher resolution did not increase the fragment numbers detected in the lower-CKE range.

Corresponding author address: Prof. Roland List, Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada. Email: list@atmosp.physics.utoronto.ca

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