Turbulent Mixing, Spectral Evolution and Dynamics in a Warm Cumulus Cloud

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  • 1 Department of Civil Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98193
  • | 2 Geophysics Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
  • | 3 Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071
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Abstract

The analysis of Paluch suggests that some cumuli contain cloudy air from only two sources: cloud base and cloud top. A framework is presented for the investigation of droplet spectral evolution in clouds composed of air from only these two sources. The key is the investigation of the dependence of droplet concentration N on the fraction of cloud base air F in a sample of cloudy air. This N-vs-F analysis is coupled with an investigation of droplet spectral parameters to infer the types and scales of entrainment and mixing events.

The technique is used in a case study of a small, nonprecipitating continental cumulus cloud which was sampled during the 1981 CCOPE project in eastern Montana. The mixing between cloudy and entrained air in this cloud often appears to occur without total removal of droplets, although there is evidence that total evaporation occurs in some regions with low liquid water content. The observed droplet spectra are compared with those calculated from an adiabatic parcel model. The spectral comparison and the results of the N-vs-F analysis support the hypothesis that cloudy and environmental air interact on fairly large scales with subsequent homogenization of the large-scale regions. This description is consistent with recent models of mixing in turbulent flows.

Abstract

The analysis of Paluch suggests that some cumuli contain cloudy air from only two sources: cloud base and cloud top. A framework is presented for the investigation of droplet spectral evolution in clouds composed of air from only these two sources. The key is the investigation of the dependence of droplet concentration N on the fraction of cloud base air F in a sample of cloudy air. This N-vs-F analysis is coupled with an investigation of droplet spectral parameters to infer the types and scales of entrainment and mixing events.

The technique is used in a case study of a small, nonprecipitating continental cumulus cloud which was sampled during the 1981 CCOPE project in eastern Montana. The mixing between cloudy and entrained air in this cloud often appears to occur without total removal of droplets, although there is evidence that total evaporation occurs in some regions with low liquid water content. The observed droplet spectra are compared with those calculated from an adiabatic parcel model. The spectral comparison and the results of the N-vs-F analysis support the hypothesis that cloudy and environmental air interact on fairly large scales with subsequent homogenization of the large-scale regions. This description is consistent with recent models of mixing in turbulent flows.

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