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Life Cycle Evolution of Inhomogeneous Mixing in Shallow Cumulus Clouds
  • Jung-Sub Lim,
  • Fabian Hoffmann
Jung-Sub Lim
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
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Fabian Hoffmann
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Understanding how entrainment and mixing shape the cloud droplet size distribution (DSD) is crucial for understanding the optical properties and precipitation efficiency of clouds. Different mixing scenarios, mainly homogeneous and inhomogeneous, shape the DSD in a distinct way and alter the cloud’s impact on climate. However, the prevalence of these mixing scenarios and how they vary in space and time is still uncertain, as underlying processes are commonly unresolved by conventional numerical models. To overcome this challenge, we employ the $L^3$ model, which considers supersaturation fluctuations and turbulent mixing down to the finest relevant lengthscales, making it possible to represent different mixing scenarios realistically. We investigate the spatial and temporal evolution of mixing scenarios over the life cycle of shallow cumulus clouds for varying boundary layer humidities and aerosol concentrations. Our findings suggest homogeneous mixing is generally predominant in cumulus clouds, while different mixing scenarios occur concurrently in the same cloud. Notably, inhomogeneous mixing increases over the cloud life cycle across all analyzed cases. The mean and standard deviation of supersaturation are found to be the most capable indicators of this evolution, providing a comprehensive insight into the characteristics of mixing scenarios. Finally, we show inhomogeneous mixing is more prevalent in drier boundary layers and for higher aerosol concentrations, underscoring the need for a more comprehensive investigation of how these mixing dynamics evolve in a changing climate.
07 Dec 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
10 Dec 2023Published in ESS Open Archive