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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  06 Nov 2020

06 Nov 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Cloud droplet diffusional growth in homogeneous isotropic turbulence: bin microphysics versus Lagrangian superdroplet simulations

Wojciech W. Grabowski1 and Lois Thomas2,3 Wojciech W. Grabowski and Lois Thomas
  • 1Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307, USA
  • 2HPCS, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Pune 411008, India
  • 3Department of Atmospheric and Space Sciences, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune 411007, India

Abstract. Increase of the spectral width of initially monodisperse population of cloud droplets in homogeneous isotropic turbulence is investigated applying a finite-difference fluid flow model combined with either Eulerian bin microphysics or Lagrangian particle-based scheme. The turbulence is forced applying a variant of the so-called linear forcing method that maintains the mean turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and the TKE partitioning between velocity components. The latter is important for maintaining the quasi-steady forcing of the supersaturation fluctuations that drive the increase of the spectral width. We apply a large computational domain, 643 m3, one of the domains considered in Thomas et al. (2020). The simulations apply 1 m grid length and are in the spirit of the implicit large eddy simulation (ILES), that is, with explicit small-scale dissipation provided by the model numerics. This is in contrast to the scaled-up direct numerical simulation (DNS) applied in Thomas et al. (2020). Two TKE intensities and three different droplet concentrations are considered. Analytic solutions derived in Sardina et al. (2015), valid for the case when the turbulence time scale is much larger than the droplet phase relaxation time scale, are used to guide the comparison between the two microphysics simulation techniques. The Lagrangian approach reproduces the scalings relatively well. Representing the spectral width increase in time is more challenging for the bin microphysics because appropriately high resolution in the bin space is needed. The bin width of 0.5 μm is only sufficient for the lowest droplet concentration, 26 cm−3. For the highest droplet concentration, 650 cm−3, even an order of magnitude smaller bin size is not sufficient. The scalings are not expected to be valid for the lowest droplet concentration and the high TKE case, and the two microphysics schemes represent similar departures. Finally, because the fluid flow is the same for all simulations featuring either low or high TKE, one can compare point-by-point simulation results. Such a comparison shows very close temperature and water vapor point-by-point values across the computational domain, and larger differences between simulated mean droplet radii and spectral width. The latter are explained by fundamental differences in the two simulation methodologies, numerical diffusion in the Eulerian bin approach and relatively small number of Lagrangian particles that are used in the particle-based microphysics.

Wojciech W. Grabowski and Lois Thomas

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Wojciech W. Grabowski and Lois Thomas

Data sets

Lagrangian and Eulerian droplets in DNS W. W. Grabowski

Wojciech W. Grabowski and Lois Thomas


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This paper presents a modeling study that investigates the impact of cloud turbulence on the diffusional growth of cloud droplets and compares modeling results to analytic solutions published in the past. The focus is on comparing the two microphysics modeling methodologies, the Eulerian bin microphysics and Lagrangian particle-based microphysics, and exposing their limitations.
This paper presents a modeling study that investigates the impact of cloud turbulence on the...