Abstract

This paper presents a comparison of simulations applying either a traditional Eulerian bin microphysics or a novel particle-based Lagrangian approach to represent CCN activation and cloud droplet growth. The Eulerian microphysics solve the evolution equation for the spectral density function, whereas the Lagrangian approach follows computational particles referred to as superdroplets. Each superdroplet represents a multiplicity of natural droplets that makes the Lagrangian approach computationally feasible. The two schemes apply identical representation of CCN activation and use the same droplet growth equation; these make direct comparison between the two schemes practical. The comparison, the first of its kind, applies an idealized simulation setup motivated by laboratory experiments with the Pi Chamber and previous model simulations of the Pi Chamber dynamics and microphysics. The Pi Chamber laboratory apparatus considers interactions between turbulence, CCN activation, and cloud droplet growth in moist Rayleigh–Bénard convection. Simulated steady-state droplet spectra averaged over the entire chamber are similar, with the mean droplet concentration, mean radius, and spectral width close in Eulerian and Lagrangian simulations. Small differences that do exist are explained by the inherent differences between the two schemes and their numerical implementation. The local droplet spectra differ substantially, again in agreement with the inherent limitations of the theoretical foundation behind each approach. There is a general agreement between simulations and Pi Chamber observations, with simplifications of the CCN activation and droplet growth equation used in the simulations likely explaining specific differences.

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