Impact of aerosols and turbulence on cloud droplet growth: an in-cloud seeding case study using a parcel–DNS (direct numerical simulation) approach

Chen, Sisi; Xue, Lulin; Yau, Man-Kong

This paper investigates the relative importance of turbulence and aerosol effects on the broadening of the droplet size distribution (DSD) during the early stage of cloud and raindrop formation. A parcel–DNS (direct numerical simulation) hybrid approach is developed to seamlessly simulate the evolution of cloud droplets in an ascending cloud parcel. The results show that turbulence and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) hygroscopicity are key to the efficient formation of large droplets. The ultragiant aerosols can quickly form embryonic drizzle drops and thus determine the onset time of autoconversion. However, due to their scarcity in natural clouds, their contribution to the total mass of drizzle drops is insignificant. In the meantime, turbulence sustains the formation of large droplets by effectively accelerating the collisions of small droplets. The DSD broadening through turbulent collisions is significant and therefore yields a higher autoconversion rate compared to that in a nonturbulent case. It is argued that the level of autoconversion is heavily determined by turbulence intensity. This paper also presents an in-cloud seeding scenario designed to scrutinize the effect of aerosols in terms of number concentration and size. It is found that seeding more aerosols leads to higher competition for water vapor, reduces the mean droplet radius, and therefore slows down the autoconversion rate. On the other hand, increasing the seeding particle size can buffer such a negative feedback. Despite the fact that the autoconversion rate is prominently altered by turbulence and seeding, bulk variables such as liquid water content (LWC) stays nearly identical among all cases. Additionally, the lowest autoconversion rate is not co-located with the smallest mean droplet radius. The finding indicates that the traditional Kessler-type or Sundqvist-type autoconversion parameterizations, which depend on the LWC or mean radius, cannot capture the drizzle formation process very well. Properties related to the width or the shape of the DSD are also needed, suggesting that the scheme of citxref_text.1#bib1.bibx2Berry and Reinhardt (#bib1.bibx21974) is conceptually better. It is also suggested that a turbulence-dependent relative-dispersion parameter should be considered.

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Chen, Sisi / Xue, Lulin / Yau, Man-Kong: Impact of aerosols and turbulence on cloud droplet growth: an in-cloud seeding case study using a parcel–DNS (direct numerical simulation) approach. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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