Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-13
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-13

  16 Feb 2021

16 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Effects of the Large-Scale Circulation on Temperature and Water Vapor Distributions in the Π Chamber

Jesse C. Anderson, Subin Thomas, Prasanth Prabhakaran, Raymond A. Shaw, and Will Cantrell Jesse C. Anderson et al.
  • Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI/USA

Abstract. Microphysical processes are important for the development of clouds and thus Earth's climate. For example, turbulent fluctuations in the water vapor concentration, r, and temperature, T, cause fluctuations in the saturation ratio, S. Because S is the driving factor in the condensational growth of droplets, fluctuations may broaden the cloud droplet size distribution due to individual droplets experiencing different growth rates. The small scale turbulent fluctuations in the atmosphere that are relevant to cloud droplets are difficult to quantify through field measurements. We investigate these processes in the laboratory, using Michigan Tech's Π Chamber. The Π Chamber utilizes Rayleigh-Benard convection (RBC) to create the turbulent conditions inherent in clouds. In RBC it is common for a large scale circulation (LSC) to form. As a consequence of the LSC, the temperature field of the chamber is not spatially uniform. In this paper, we characterize the LSC in the Π chamber and show how it affects the shape of the distributions of r, T and S. The LSC was found to follow a single roll with an updraft and downdraft along opposing walls of the chamber. Near the updraft (downdraft), the distributions of T and r were positively (negatively) skewed. S consistently had a negatively skewed distribution, with the downdraft being the most negative.

Jesse C. Anderson et al.

Status: open (until 13 Apr 2021)

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Jesse C. Anderson et al.

Data sets

Data supporting the paper "Effects of the Large-Scale Circulation on Temperature and Water Vapor Distributions in the Π Chamber Jesse Anderson, Subin Thomas, Prasanth Prabhakaran, Raymond Shaw, and Will Cantrell https://doi.org/10.37099/mtu.dc.all-datasets/3

Jesse C. Anderson et al.

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Short summary
Fluctuations due to turbulence in Earth's atmosphere can play a role in how many droplets a cloud has, and eventually, whether that cloud rains or evaporates. We study such processes in Michigan Tech's cloud chamber. Here, we characterize the turbulent and large scale motions of air in the chamber, measuring the spatial and temporal distributions of temperature and water vapor, which we can combine to get the distribution of relative humidity, which governs cloud formation and dissipation.