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Laboratory simulations show diabatic heating drives cumulus-cloud evolution and entrainment

Narasimha, Roddam and Diwan, Sourabh Suhas and Duvvuri, Subrahmanyam and Sreenivas, KR and Bhat, GS (2011) Laboratory simulations show diabatic heating drives cumulus-cloud evolution and entrainment. In: PNAS, 108 (39). pp. 16164-16169.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1112281108

Abstract

Clouds are the largest source of uncertainty in climate science, and remain a weak link in modeling tropical circulation. A major challenge is to establish connections between particulate microphysics and macroscale turbulent dynamics in cumulus clouds. Here we address the issue from the latter standpoint. First we show how to create bench-scale flows that reproduce a variety of cumulus-cloud forms (including two genera and three species), and track complete cloud life cycles-e.g., from a ``cauliflower'' congestus to a dissipating fractus. The flow model used is a transient plume with volumetric diabatic heating scaled dynamically to simulate latent-heat release from phase changes in clouds. Laser-based diagnostics of steady plumes reveal Riehl-Malkus type protected cores. They also show that, unlike the constancy implied by early self-similar plume models, the diabatic heating raises the Taylor entrainment coefficient just above cloud base, depressing it at higher levels. This behavior is consistent with cloud-dilution rates found in recent numerical simulations of steady deep convection, and with aircraft-based observations of homogeneous mixing in clouds. In-cloud diabatic heating thus emerges as the key driver in cloud development, and could well provide a major link between microphysics and cloud- scale dynamics.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to National Academy of Sciences.
Keywords: cloud fluid dynamics;off-source heating;anomalous entrainment;turbulent mixing
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2011 10:20
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2011 10:23
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/41409

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