A simple geometric argument relating to the liquid water content of clouds is given. The phase relaxation time and the nature of the quasi-steady approximation for the diffusional growth of cloud drops are elucidated directly in terms of water vapor concentration. Spatial gradients of vapor concentration, inherent in the notion of quasi-steady growth, are discussed and we argue for an occasional reversal of the traditional point of view: rather than a drop growing in response to a given supersaturation, the observed values of the supersaturation in clouds are the result of a vapor field adjusting to droplet growth. Our perspective is illustrated by comparing the exponential decay of condensation trails with a quasi-steady regime of cirrus clouds. The role of aerosol loading in decreasing relaxation times and increasing the rate of growth of the liquid water content is also discussed.
Environmental Research Letters
Kostinski, A. B.
Simple approximations for condensational growth.
Environmental Research Letters,
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