Diffusional growth of cloud droplets in homogeneous isotropic turbulence: DNS, scaled-up DNS, and stochastic model

Thomas, Lois; Grabowski, Wojciech W.; Kumar, Bipin

This paper presents a novel methodology to use direct numerical simulation (DNS) to study the impact of isotropic homogeneous turbulence on the condensational growth of cloud droplets. As shown by previous DNS studies, the impact of turbulence increases with the computational domain size, that is, with the Reynolds number, because larger eddies generate higher and longer-lasting supersaturation fluctuations that affect growth of individual cloud droplets. The traditional DNS can only simulate a limited range of scales because of the excessive computational cost that comes from resolving all scales involved, that is, from large scales at which the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) is introduced down to the Kolmogorov microscale, and from following every single droplet. The novel approach is referred to as the “scaled-up DNS”. The scaling up is done in two parts, first by increasing both the computational domain and the Kolmogorov microscale and second by using super-droplets instead of real droplets. To ensure proper dissipation of TKE and scalar variance at small scales, molecular transport coefficients are appropriately scaled up with the grid length. For the scaled-up domains, say, meters and tens of meters, one needs to follow billions of real droplets. This is not computationally feasible, and so-called super-droplets are applied in scaled-up DNS simulations. Each super-droplet represents an ensemble of identical real droplets, and the number of real droplets represented by a super-droplet is referred to as the multiplicity attribute. After simple tests showing the validity of the methodology, scaled-up DNS simulations are conducted for five domains, the largest of inline-formula643 minline-formula3 volume using a DNS of inline-formula2563 grid points and various multiplicities. All simulations are carried out with vanishing mean vertical velocity and with no mean supersaturation, similarly to past DNS studies. As expected, the supersaturation fluctuations as well as the spread in droplet size distribution increase with the domain size, with the droplet radius variance increasing in time inline-formulat as inline-formulat1∕2 as identified in previous DNS studies. Scaled-up simulations with different multiplicities document numerical convergence of the scaled-up solutions. Finally, we compare the scaled-up DNS results with a simple stochastic model that calculates supersaturation fluctuations based on the vertical velocity fluctuations updated using the Langevin equation. Overall, the results document similar scaling to previous small-domain DNS simulations and support the notion that the stochastic subgrid-scale model is a valuable tool for the multi-scale simulation of droplet spectral evolution applying a large-eddy simulation model.

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Thomas, Lois / Grabowski, Wojciech W. / Kumar, Bipin: Diffusional growth of cloud droplets in homogeneous isotropic turbulence: DNS, scaled-up DNS, and stochastic model. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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