Effect of Turbulence on Collisional Growth of Cloud Droplets

Xiang-Yu Li Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Nordita, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish e-Science Research Centre, Stockholm, Sweden
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
JILA, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

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Axel Brandenburg Nordita, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
JILA, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Department of Astronomy, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

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Gunilla Svensson Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish e-Science Research Centre, Stockholm, Sweden
Global and Climate Dynamics, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Nils E. L. Haugen SINTEF Energy Research, Trondheim, Norway
Department of Energy and Process Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

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Bernhard Mehlig Department of Physics, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden

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Igor Rogachevskii Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
Nordita, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

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Abstract

We investigate the effect of turbulence on the collisional growth of micrometer-sized droplets through high-resolution numerical simulations with well-resolved Kolmogorov scales, assuming a collision and coalescence efficiency of unity. The droplet dynamics and collisions are approximated using a superparticle approach. In the absence of gravity, we show that the time evolution of the shape of the droplet-size distribution due to turbulence-induced collisions depends strongly on the turbulent energy-dissipation rate , but only weakly on the Reynolds number. This can be explained through the dependence of the mean collision rate described by the Saffman–Turner collision model. Consistent with the Saffman–Turner collision model and its extensions, the collision rate increases as even when coalescence is invoked. The size distribution exhibits power-law behavior with a slope of −3.7 from a maximum at approximately 10 up to about 40 μm. When gravity is invoked, turbulence is found to dominate the time evolution of an initially monodisperse droplet distribution at early times. At later times, however, gravity takes over and dominates the collisional growth. We find that the formation of large droplets is very sensitive to the turbulent energy dissipation rate. This is because turbulence enhances the collisional growth between similar-sized droplets at the early stage of raindrop formation. The mean collision rate grows exponentially, which is consistent with the theoretical prediction of the continuous collisional growth even when turbulence-generated collisions are invoked. This consistency only reflects the mean effect of turbulence on collisional growth.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Xiang-Yu Li, xiang.yu.li@su.se

Abstract

We investigate the effect of turbulence on the collisional growth of micrometer-sized droplets through high-resolution numerical simulations with well-resolved Kolmogorov scales, assuming a collision and coalescence efficiency of unity. The droplet dynamics and collisions are approximated using a superparticle approach. In the absence of gravity, we show that the time evolution of the shape of the droplet-size distribution due to turbulence-induced collisions depends strongly on the turbulent energy-dissipation rate , but only weakly on the Reynolds number. This can be explained through the dependence of the mean collision rate described by the Saffman–Turner collision model. Consistent with the Saffman–Turner collision model and its extensions, the collision rate increases as even when coalescence is invoked. The size distribution exhibits power-law behavior with a slope of −3.7 from a maximum at approximately 10 up to about 40 μm. When gravity is invoked, turbulence is found to dominate the time evolution of an initially monodisperse droplet distribution at early times. At later times, however, gravity takes over and dominates the collisional growth. We find that the formation of large droplets is very sensitive to the turbulent energy dissipation rate. This is because turbulence enhances the collisional growth between similar-sized droplets at the early stage of raindrop formation. The mean collision rate grows exponentially, which is consistent with the theoretical prediction of the continuous collisional growth even when turbulence-generated collisions are invoked. This consistency only reflects the mean effect of turbulence on collisional growth.

© 2018 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Xiang-Yu Li, xiang.yu.li@su.se
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