Gibbs states and Brownian models for haze and cloud droplets


Santos Gutiérrez, Manuel, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Ilan Koren. Submitted. “Gibbs states and Brownian models for haze and cloud droplets”.


Clouds microphysics describes the formation and evolution of cloud droplets, rain, and ice particles. It is among the most critical factors in determining the cloud's size, lifetime, precipitation, and radiative effect. Among all cloud types, the small clouds, characterized by weak updrafts, that are close to the haze-to-cloud transition pose challenges in measuring them and understanding their properties. They are superabundant but hard to capture by satellites and often falsely regarded as aerosols. Köhler's theory explains droplet activation and their growth by condensation at the earliest stages of cloud development. It fully describes the thermodynamic state of a single drop but falls short when explaining the collective behavior of large populations of particles. This is especially important when the supersaturation pool is limited. We present an analytical framework to extend Köhler's theory to coexisting cloud droplets. Our results suggest hysteresis and asymmetry in the process of droplet activation and deactivation. The turbulent nature of clouds is incorporated into our model formulation as Brownian noise to provide explicit droplet size distributions and activation timescales. The theoretical findings are confronted with experimental data stemming from laboratory clouds created in the Pi convection chamber, suggesting a new way of understanding haze-to-cloud transitions and small cloud formation processes.

arXiv version