Supersaturation Variability from Scalar Mixing: Evaluation of a New Subgrid-Scale Model Using Direct Numerical Simulations of Turbulent Rayleigh–Bénard Convection

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Department of Physics


Supersaturation fluctuations in the atmosphere are critical for cloud processes. A nonlinear dependence on two scalars}water vapor and temperature}leads to different behavior than single scalars in turbulent convection. For modeling such multiscalar processes at subgrid scales (SGS) in large-eddy simulations (LES) or convection-permitting models, a new SGS scheme is implemented in CM1 that solves equations for SGS water vapor and temperature fluctuations and their covariance. The SGS model is evaluated using benchmark direct-numerical simulations (DNS) of turbulent Rayleigh–Bénard convection with water vapor as in the Michigan Tech Pi Cloud Chamber. This idealized setup allows thorough evaluation of the SGS model without complications from other atmospheric processes. DNS results compare favorably with measurements from the chamber. Results from LES using the new SGS model compare well with DNS, including profiles of water vapor and temperature variances, their covariance, and supersaturation variance. SGS supersaturation fluctuations scale appropriately with changes to the LES grid spacing, with the magnitude of SGS fluctuations decreasing relative to those at the resolved scale as the grid spacing is decreased. Sensitivities of covariance and supersaturation statistics to changes in water vapor flux relative to thermal flux are also investigated by modifying the sidewall conditions. Relative changes in water vapor flux substantially decrease the covariance and increase supersaturation fluctuations even away from boundaries.

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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences