Is the Water Vapor Supersaturation Distribution Gaussian?

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Department of Physics


Water vapor supersaturation in the atmosphere is produced in a variety of ways, including the lifting of a parcel or via isobaric mixing of parcels. However, irrespective of the mechanism of production, the water vapor supersaturation in the atmosphere has typically been modeled as a Gaussian distribution. In the current theoretical and numerical study, the nature of supersaturation produced by mixing processes is explored. The results from large-eddy simulation and a Gaussian mixing model reveal the distribution of supersaturations produced by mixing to be negatively skewed. Further, the causes of skewness are explored using the models. The correlation in forcing of temperature and water vapor fields is recognized as playing a key role.

Publication Title

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences