Supersaturation and diffusional droplet growth in liquid clouds

M. Pinsky, I. P. Mazin, A. Korolev, A. Khain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The process of collective diffusional growth of droplets in an adiabatic parcel ascending or descending with the constant vertical velocity is analyzed in the frame of the regular condensation approach. Closed equations for the evolution of liquid water content, droplet radius, and supersaturation are derived from the mass balance equation centered with respect to the adiabatic water content. The analytical expression for the maximumsupersaturation Smax formed near the cloud base is obtained here. Similar analytical expressions for the height zmax and liquid water mixing ratio qmax corresponding to the level where Smax occurs have also been obtained. It is shown that all three variables Smax, qmax, and zmax are linearly related to each other and all are proportional to w3/4N-1/2, where w is the vertical velocity and N is the droplet number concentration. Universal solutions for supersaturation and liquid water mixing ratio are found here, which incorporates the dependence on vertical velocity, droplet concentration, temperature, and pressure into one dimensionless parameter. The actual solutions for S and q can be obtained from the universal solutions with the help of appropriate scaling factors described in this study. The results obtained in the frame of this study provide a new look at the nature of supersaturation formation in liquid clouds. Despite the fact that the study does not include a detailed treatment of the activation process, it is shown that this work can be useful for the parameterization of cloud microphysical processes in cloud models, especially for the parameterization of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2778-2793
Number of pages16
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013


  • Cloud microphysics
  • Condensation
  • Evaporation


Dive into the research topics of 'Supersaturation and diffusional droplet growth in liquid clouds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this