Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
Development and technical paper
12 Jan 2018
Development and technical paper |  | 12 Jan 2018

Lagrangian condensation microphysics with Twomey CCN activation

Wojciech W. Grabowski, Piotr Dziekan, and Hanna Pawlowska

Abstract. We report the development of a novel Lagrangian microphysics methodology for simulations of warm ice-free clouds. The approach applies the traditional Eulerian method for the momentum and continuous thermodynamic fields such as the temperature and water vapor mixing ratio, and uses Lagrangian super-droplets to represent condensed phase such as cloud droplets and drizzle or rain drops. In other applications of the Lagrangian warm-rain microphysics, the super-droplets outside clouds represent unactivated cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) that become activated upon entering a cloud and can further grow through diffusional and collisional processes. The original methodology allows for the detailed study of not only effects of CCN on cloud microphysics and dynamics, but also CCN processing by a cloud. However, when cloud processing is not of interest, a simpler and computationally more efficient approach can be used with super-droplets forming only when CCN is activated and no super-droplet existing outside a cloud. This is possible by applying the Twomey activation scheme where the local supersaturation dictates the concentration of cloud droplets that need to be present inside a cloudy volume, as typically used in Eulerian bin microphysics schemes. Since a cloud volume is a small fraction of the computational domain volume, the Twomey super-droplets provide significant computational advantage when compared to the original super-droplet methodology. Additional advantage comes from significantly longer time steps that can be used when modeling of CCN deliquescence is avoided. Moreover, other formulation of the droplet activation can be applied in case of low vertical resolution of the host model, for instance, linking the concentration of activated cloud droplets to the local updraft speed.

This paper discusses the development and testing of the Twomey super-droplet methodology, focusing on the activation and diffusional growth. Details of the activation implementation, transport of super-droplets in the physical space, and the coupling between super-droplets and the Eulerian temperature and water vapor field are discussed in detail. Some of these are relevant to the original super-droplet methodology as well and to the ice phase modeling using the Lagrangian approach. As a computational example, the scheme is applied to an idealized moist thermal rising in a stratified environment, with the original super-droplet methodology providing a benchmark to which the new scheme is compared.

Short summary
This paper introduces a novel approach to simulating ice-free clouds. The key process is formation and transport of cloud droplets that are represented through Lagrangian particles referred to as super-droplets. Each super-droplet represents a multitude of natural cloud droplets. The essential component of the scheme that makes it different and more efficient from previous approaches is the presence of super-droplets only within a cloud.