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Impact of Entrainment Mixing and Turbulent Fluctuations on Droplet Size Distributions in a Cumulus Cloud: An Investigation Using Lagrangian Microphysics with a Subgrid-Scale Model

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  • 1 a National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Entrainment mixing and turbulent fluctuations critically impact cloud droplet size distributions (DSDs) in cumulus clouds. This problem is investigated via a new sophisticated modeling framework using the Cloud Model 1 (CM1) LES model and a Lagrangian cloud microphysics scheme—the “superdroplet method” (SDM)—coupled with subgrid-scale (SGS) schemes for particle transport and supersaturation fluctuations. This modeling framework is used to simulate a cumulus congestus cloud. Average DSDs in different cloud regions show broadening from entrainment and secondary cloud droplet activation (activation above the cloud base). DSD width increases with increasing entrainment-induced dilution as expected from past work, except in the most diluted cloud regions. The new modeling framework with SGS transport and supersaturation fluctuations allows a more sophisticated treatment of secondary activation compared to previous studies. In these simulations, it contributes about 25% of the cloud droplet population and impacts DSDs in two contrasting ways: narrowing in extremely diluted regions and broadening in relatively less diluted. SGS supersaturation fluctuations contribute significantly to an increase in DSD width via condensation growth and evaporation. Mixing of superdroplets from SGS velocity fluctuations also broadens DSDs. The relative dispersion (ratio of DSD dispersion and mean radius) negatively correlates with gridscale vertical velocity in updrafts but is positively correlated in downdrafts. The latter is from droplet activation driven by positive SGS supersaturation fluctuations in grid-mean subsaturated conditions. Finally, the sensitivity to model grid length is evaluated. The SGS schemes have greater influence as the grid length is increased, and they partially compensate for the reduced model resolution.

© 2021 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: Kamal Kant Chandrakar, kkchandr@ucar.edu

Abstract

Entrainment mixing and turbulent fluctuations critically impact cloud droplet size distributions (DSDs) in cumulus clouds. This problem is investigated via a new sophisticated modeling framework using the Cloud Model 1 (CM1) LES model and a Lagrangian cloud microphysics scheme—the “superdroplet method” (SDM)—coupled with subgrid-scale (SGS) schemes for particle transport and supersaturation fluctuations. This modeling framework is used to simulate a cumulus congestus cloud. Average DSDs in different cloud regions show broadening from entrainment and secondary cloud droplet activation (activation above the cloud base). DSD width increases with increasing entrainment-induced dilution as expected from past work, except in the most diluted cloud regions. The new modeling framework with SGS transport and supersaturation fluctuations allows a more sophisticated treatment of secondary activation compared to previous studies. In these simulations, it contributes about 25% of the cloud droplet population and impacts DSDs in two contrasting ways: narrowing in extremely diluted regions and broadening in relatively less diluted. SGS supersaturation fluctuations contribute significantly to an increase in DSD width via condensation growth and evaporation. Mixing of superdroplets from SGS velocity fluctuations also broadens DSDs. The relative dispersion (ratio of DSD dispersion and mean radius) negatively correlates with gridscale vertical velocity in updrafts but is positively correlated in downdrafts. The latter is from droplet activation driven by positive SGS supersaturation fluctuations in grid-mean subsaturated conditions. Finally, the sensitivity to model grid length is evaluated. The SGS schemes have greater influence as the grid length is increased, and they partially compensate for the reduced model resolution.

© 2021 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: Kamal Kant Chandrakar, kkchandr@ucar.edu
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