Effects of entrainment and mixing on droplet size distributions in warm cumulus clouds

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Abstract

A long-standing problem in cloud physics is the broadening of the cloud droplet spectrum in warm cumulus clouds. To isolate the changes of the droplet size distribution (DSD) due to entrainment and turbulent mixing, we used the Explicit Mixing Parcel Model (EMPM). The EMPM explicitly represents spatial variability due to entrainment and turbulent mixing down to the smallest turbulence scales in a one-dimensional domain. Several thousand individual droplets evolve by condensation or evaporation according to their local environments. We used EMPM results to characterize the evolution of the DSD due to entrainment and isobaric mixing for a wide range of conditions in a 20 m domain, including variations in entrained environmental air fraction, the turbulence dissipation rate, the size of the entrained blobs, and the relative humidity of the entrained air. We found that the broadening of the DSD due to entrainment and isobaric mixing for a specific value of the entrained air relative humidity depends only on the eddy mixing time scale and the LWC after mixing. Broadening increases substantially as the evaporation time scale decreases due to decreasing relative humidity of the entrained air. Our results also show that it is possible to parameterize the effects of entrainment and mixing on the droplet number concentration. The comprehensive results obtained for one set of values of entrained air relative humidity, droplet size, and droplet concentration should be extended to other values.

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