Effects of entrainment and mixing on the Wegener-Bergeron-Findeisen process
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Effects of entrainment and mixing on the Wegener-Bergeron-Findeisen process

  • Published Date:

    2020

  • Source:
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 77(6), 2279-2296.
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    The growth of ice crystals at the expense of water droplets, the Wegener–Bergeron–Findeisen (WBF) process, is of major importance for the production of precipitation in mixed-phase clouds. The effects of entrainment and mixing on WBF, however, are not well understood, and small-scale inhomogeneities in the thermodynamic and hydrometeor fields are typically neglected in current models. By applying the linear eddy model, a millimeter-resolution representation of turbulent deformation and molecular diffusion, we investigate these small-scale effects on WBF. While we show that entrainment is accelerating WBF by contributing to the evaporation of liquid droplets, entrainment may also cause aforementioned inhomogeneities, particularly regions filled with exclusively ice or liquid hydrometeors, which tend to decelerate WBF if the ice crystal concentration exceeds 100 L−1. At lower ice crystal concentrations, even weak turbulence can homogenize hydrometeor and thermodynamic fields sufficiently fast so as to not affect WBF. Independent of the ice crystal concentration, it is shown that a fully resolved entrainment and mixing process may delay the nucleation of entrained aerosols to ice crystals, thereby delaying the uptake of water vapor by the ice phase, further slowing down WBF. All in all, this study indicates that, under specific conditions, small-scale inhomogeneities associated with entrainment and mixing counteract the accelerated WBF in entraining clouds. However, further research is required to assess the importance of the newly discovered processes more broadly in fully coupled, evolving mixed-phase cloud systems.
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