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Department of Physics


The convection–cloud chamber enables measurement of aerosol and cloud microphysics, as well as their interactions, within a turbulent environment under steady-state conditions. Increasing the size of a convection–cloud chamber, while holding the imposed temperature difference constant, leads to increased Rayleigh, Reynolds and Nusselt numbers. Large–eddy simulation coupled with a bin microphysics model allows the influence of increased velocity, time, and spatial scales on cloud microphysical properties to be explored. Simulations of a convection–cloud chamber, with fixed aspect ratio and increasing heights of H = 1, 2, 4, and (for dry conditions only) 8 m are performed. The key findings are: Velocity fluctuations scale as H1/3, consistent with the Deardorff expression for convective velocity, and implying that the turbulence correlation time scales as H2/3. Temperature and other scalar fluctuations scale as H−3/7. Droplet size distributions from chambers of different sizes can be matched by adjusting the total aerosol injection rate as the horizontal cross-sectional area (i.e., as H2 for constant aspect ratio). Injection of aerosols at a point versus distributed throughout the volume makes no difference for polluted conditions, but can lead to cloud droplet size distribution broadening in clean conditions. Cloud droplet growth by collision and coalescence leads to a broader right tail of the distribution compared to condensation growth alone, and this tail increases in magnitude and extent monotonically as the increase of chamber height. These results also have implications for scaling within turbulent, cloudy mixed-layers in the atmosphere, such as fog layers.

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© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Geophysical Union. Publisher’s version of record:

Supporting Data

Data Supporting: Scaling of Turbulence and Microphysics in a Convection-Cloud Chamber of Varying Height can be found on Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech:

Publication Title

Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems


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Physics Commons



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