Influence of Entrainment on Centimeter-Scale Cloud Microphysics in Marine Stratocumulus Clouds Observed during CSET

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Department of Physics


Cloud microphysical relationships observed during the Cloud System Evolution in the Trades (CSET) campaign held between Northern California and Hawaii were analyzed to study the effects of entrainment and subsequent mixing of free-tropospheric and cloudy air on cloud microphysical properties of marine stratocumulus clouds. The data measured by Holographic Detector for Clouds (HOLODEC) were extensively used because they could provide the 3D positions and sizes of droplets within sample volume on the centimeter scale, making it possible to explore the 3D spatial distribution of droplets, which has not been possible for conventional cloud probes. This study focused on analyzing the 3D spatial distribution of droplets and visual traits of inhomogeneous mixing and on quantifying the relationship between 3D spatial distributions and traits of inhomogeneous mixing. Two types of spatial distributions are compared. The first is measured droplet spatial distribution and the second type is generated randomly distributed droplets using theMonte Carlo approach, that is, to analyze whether or not clustering is strong enough to classify as a clustered distribution for a hologram. The difference between the two types of spatial distributions depends on whether they are affected by entrainment and mixing. The holograms observed near the cloud top, where the effects of entrainment and mixing would be immediate, showed relatively high confidence in the significance test for spatially clustered populations of droplets. Moreover, spatially clustered holograms appeared to exhibit stronger visual traits of inhomogeneous mixing than perfectly randomly distributed holograms only when observed near the cloud top. On the other hand, these characteristics did not appear for holograms observed deeper into the cloud where the effects of entrainment and mixing would be reduced. Such 3D structural characteristics of droplet distributions seem to be consistent with vertical circulation mixing.

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Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences