Environmental & Climate Sciences Department Seminar

"What can we learn from cloudy convection in a box? Laboratory meets LES with cloud microphysics"

Presented by Raymond Shaw, MTU

Thursday, January 31, 2019, 11:00 am — Conference Room Bldg 815E

Inspired by early convection-tank experiments (e.g., Deardorff and Willis) and diffusion-chamber experiments, we have developed a cloud chamber that operates on the principle of isobaric mixing within turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection. The "Pi cloud chamber" has a height of 1 m and diameter of 2 m. An attractive aspect of this approach is the ability to make direct comparison to large eddy simulation with detailed cloud microphysics, with well characterized boundary conditions, and statistical stationarity of both turbulence and cloud properties. Highlights of what we have learned are: cloud microphysical and optical properties are representative of those observed in stratocumulus; aerosol number concentration plays a critical role in cloud droplet size dispersion, i.e., dispersion indirect effect; aerosol-cloud interactions can lead to a condition conducive to accelerated cloud collapse; realistic and persistent mixed-phase cloud conditions can be sustained; LES is able to capture the essential features of the turbulent convection and warm-phase cloud microphysical conditions. It is worth considering what more could be learned with a larger-scale cloudy-convection chamber. Turbulence Reynolds numbers and Lagrangian-correlation times would be scaled up, therefore allowing more enhanced role of fluctuations in the condensation-growth process. Larger vertical extent (of order 10 m) would approach typical collision mean free paths, thereby allowing for direct observation of the transition from condensation- to coalescence-growth. In combination with cloudy LES, this would be an opportunity for microphysical model validation, and for synergistic learning from model-measurement comparison under controlled experimental conditions.

Hosted by: Fan Yang

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