Investigation of droplet size distributions and drizzle formation using a new trajectory ensemble model. Part II: Lucky parcels

L. Magaritz, M. Pinsky, O. Knasnov, A. Khain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A novel trajectory ensemble model of the cloud-topped boundary layer containing 1340 Lagrangian parcels moving with a turbulent-like flow with the observed statistical properties was applied to investigate the formation of the microphysical structure of stratocumulus clouds (Sc) in a nonmixing limit (when turbulent mixing between the parcels is not taken into account). The Sc observed in two research flights during the Second Dynamics and Chemistry of the Marine Stratocumulus field study (DYCOMS II) - RF01 (no drizzle) and RF07 (weak drizzle) - are simulated. The mechanisms leading to a high variability of droplet size distributions (DSDs) with different spectrum width and dispersion are discussed. Drizzle formation was investigated using the radar reflectivity - LWC and LWC - effective drop radius diagrams simulated by the model in the nondrizzle and drizzle cases. It is shown that in the RF07 case large cloud droplets that trigger drop collisions and drizzle formation form only in a small fraction (about 1%) of the parcels (which will be referred to as lucky parcels) in which LWC exceeds ∼1.5 gm-3. This value exceeds the horizontally averaged LWC maximum value of 0.9 g m-3 by two to three standard deviations, indicating a small amount of lucky parcels. In a nondrizzling cloud simulation this threshold is exceeded extremely rarely. The dependence of the threshold value of LWC on aerosol concentration is discussed. The lucky parcels (at least in the nonmixing limit) start their updraft in the vicinity of the surface, where the water vapor mixing ratio is maximum, and ascend to the highest levels close to the cloud top. It is shown that the lucky parcel tracks are related to the large eddies in the boundary layer, which indicates the substantial role of large eddies in drizzle formation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)781-805
Number of pages25
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


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