Analytical investigation of the role of lateral mixing in the evolution of nonprecipitating cumulus. Part I: Developing clouds

M. Pinsky, A. Khain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Evolution of nonprecipitating cumulus clouds (Cu) at the developing stage under the influence of lateral entrainment and mixing is studied analytically using a minimalistic analytical model. We present a model of an ascending cloud volume (a model of developing Cu) whose structure is determined by the processes of droplet diffusion growth/evaporation and entrainment mixing in the horizontal direction. Spatial and time changes of liquid water content, the adiabatic fraction, droplet concentration, and the mean volume droplet radius are calculated. It is shown that the existence of a nondiluted core in a growing cumulus cloud significantly depends on the cloud width and vertical velocity. While at the updraft velocity of 2 m s21 the core of a 400-m-wide cloud becomes diluted at distances of a few hundred meters above cloud base, the core of a cloud of 1000-m width remains nondiluted at distances up to 1500 m above cloud base. The explanation of this result is simple: the increase in cloud width and the decrease in the updraft velocity increase the time during which the cloud is diluted due to mixing. Since lateral mixing synchronously decreases both the cloud water content and droplet concentration, the variation of the mean volume droplet radius is low inside the cloud. The approximate quantitative condition for cloud formation in updraft is derived. It is shown that a cloud can arise when its vertical velocity exceeds a critical value. To produce clouds, narrow turbulent plumes should ascend at higher velocity as compared to wider plumes. High humidity of the environment air is favorable for formation of clouds from plumes. The comparison of the obtained results with previously published observational data indicates a reasonable agreement. The results can be useful for parameterization purposes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)891-909
Number of pages19
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020

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© 2020 American Meteorological Society.


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