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How turbulence enhances coalescence of settling

particles with applications to rain in clouds
S Ghosh, J Dávila, J.C.R Hunt, A Srdic, H.J.S Fernando and P.R Jonas
Proc. R. Soc. A 2005 461, 3059-3088
doi: 10.1098/rspa.2005.1490

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Proc. R. Soc. A (2005) 461, 3059–3088

Published online 9 August 2005

How turbulence enhances coalescence of

settling particles with applications to rain
in clouds
B Y S. G HOSH 1 , J. D ÁVILA 2 , J. C. R. H UNT 3,4 , A. S RDIC 5 ,
School of the Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Grupe de Mecánica de Fluidos, E.S. Ingenieros, Universidad de Sevilla,
Camino Descubrimientos, s/n lsla Cartuja, C.P. 41092, Spain
Department of Space and Climate Physics and Department of Earth Sciences,
University College, London WC1E 6BT, UK
Delft University of Technology, 2600 AA Delft, The Netherlands
Environmental Fluid Dynamics Program, Department of Mechanical and
Aerospace Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-9809, USA
Department of Physics, UMIST, Manchester M60 1QD, UK

From theoretical, numerical and experimental studies of small inertial particles with
density equal to b(O1) times that of the fluid, it is shown that such particles are
‘centrifuged’ out of vortices and eddies in turbulence. Thus, in the presence of gravitational
acceleration g, their average sedimentation velocity VT in a size range just below a critical
radius acr is increased significantly by up to about 80%. We show that in fully developed
turbulence, acr is determined by the circulation Gk of the smallest Kolmogorov micro-scale
eddies, but is approximately independent of the rate of turbulent energy dissipation e,
because Gk is about equal to the kinematic viscosity n. It is shown that acr varies
approximately like n2=3 gK1=3 ðbK 1ÞK1=2 and is about 20 mm (G2 mm) for water droplets in
most types of cloud. New calculations are presented to show how this phenomena causes
higher collision rates between these ‘large’ droplets and those that are smaller than acr,
leading to rapid growth rates of droplets above this critical radius. Calculations of the
resulting droplet size spectra in cloud turbulence are in good agreement with experimental
data. The analysis, which explains why cloud droplets can grow rapidly from 20 to 80 mm
irrespective of the level of cloud turbulence is also applicable where acrw1 mm for typical
sand/mud particles. This mechanism, associated with unequal droplet/particle sizes is not
dependant on higher particle concentration around vortices and the results differ
quantitatively and physically from theories based on this hypothesis.
Keywords: turbulence; coalescence; droplets; clouds

1. Introduction

The initiation of warm rain (where ice particles are not present) in the turbulent
motions within clouds has three main stages. Firstly, condensation of saturated

Received 8 April 2004

Accepted 1 April 2005 3059 q 2005 The Royal Society
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3060 S. Ghosh and others

water vapour on to nuclei causes the growth of droplets with radii generally
smaller than 20 mm. Secondly, there is a rapid growth of much larger droplets of
about 80 mm, and thirdly, as they settle relatively faster than the smaller
droplets, the larger droplets grow by collisions with the smaller ones and fall out
of the cloud. The second stage is still not adequately understood or accurately
modelled, in common with other processes in which the average sizes of particles
and bubbles grow in turbulent flows caused by an increased rate of collision and
coalescence (Jonas 1996). The developments in the understanding the structure
of turbulence and the motion of particles in turbulence (Hunt et al. 1994, 2001;
Dávila & Hunt 2001) provides an opportunity to re-examine these problems.
There is still some controversy as to whether this mechanism also controls the
coalescence/flocculation of mud/clay particles in water. The uncertainty is
partly because of the lack of experimental observations, and partly because it is
still not clear that these processes are triggered by pure collisions alone.
The growth rate of cloud particles by condensation in a supersaturated
environment decreases as the particles become larger, owing to the reduced
surface to volume ratio and as a result, even if the initial particle size spectrum is
broad, subsequent growth of the particles would lead to a narrowing of the
spectrum as the mean size increases, if all particles were exposed to the same
supersaturation. Recently, it has become possible to measure droplets with a
much higher spatial resolution. Observed droplet spectra at all levels in most
water clouds are generally broader than spectra modelled on this basis. In
addition, it is also observed that growth by coalescence is very slow until some
droplets have reached a critical radius of ca 20 mm, whereupon in deep clouds
with high values of the liquid water content, subsequent growth to drizzle size
may take only a few minutes (Jonas 1996). A major concern for researchers in the
field of cloud physics is to find the cause of this transition to fast growth (see
figure 1).
Many of the early calculations of particle growth in clouds were based on the
assumption that the particle grew in stagnant air. However, observations show
that most clouds are very turbulent with dissipation rates ranging from 10K4 to
10K1 m2 sK3 in cumulus clouds (Smith & Jonas 1995). In this paper, we have
critically examined the role of turbulence in inducing microphysical alterations.
In order to explain the broad spectrum observed, two main mechanisms have
been proposed; namely, collisions caused by differential settling velocities of
particles as in the third stage, and collisions forced by the turbulent eddying
motion in the clouds caused by buoyancy forces associated with long temporal
fluctuations. If the effect of turbulence is not considered, the former mechanism is
too slow (Mason 1952). In one of the first models for the effect of turbulence,
Brunk et al. (1998) suggested that straining within Kolmogorov micro-scale
eddies would accelerate the collision relative velocity of colliding droplets. Pinsky
& Khain (1997a) analysed the motion of inertial particles in turbulence using a
statistical model and numerical simulations to show how the centrifuging action
of vortical eddies tends to concentrate particles near the periphery and thereby
amplify droplet coalescence (see also Shaw 2000). However, in many
microphysical models, turbulence induced fall velocity enhancements depend
rather critically on the energy of the turbulence. Spectral broadening effects in
cloud appear whenever there are a few drops with radii of ca 20 mm. In fact,
observations indicate that the collision efficiencies increase around a critical size

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3061

large eddy ~ 100 m microscale vortices ~ 1 mm

1 km

newly formed
1 km rain droplet
cloud droplet (10;106;1)


Figure 1. Schematic showing the diversity of spatial scales, vortices and particle number
concentrations in cloud microphysical calculations. The numbers within brackets refer to radius in
microns, number per litre and terminal velocity of droplets in cm sK1, respectively.

of 20 mm over a wide range of turbulent energy dissipation rates (see Jonas 1996
and references therein). Thus, ideally, one should be able to derive this critical
size (over which turbulence effects can enhance droplet coalescence) theoreti-
cally. Indeed, in this paper, we have achieved this through scaling analysis (see
equation (3.5) of the present paper). In addition to the above-mentioned papers,
two review papers discuss in some detail the problem of particle–turbulence
interactions and the consequent implications for cloud microphysical appli-
cations. Vaillancourt & Yau (2000) have reviewed laboratory and numerical
work, concluding that the majority of direct numerical simulations have not
accounted for gravity and have focused on Stokes numbers close to unity where
preferential concentration is found to be the most prominent. In addition, they
argue that the effect of preferential concentration during diffusional growth
cannot be treated as a good mechanism to explain droplet spectral broadening in
adiabatic cloud cores. The other recent review paper by Shaw (2003) summarizes
recent advances in this area (including the mechanism suggested by Dávila &
Hunt (2001) and its subsequent application by Ghosh & Jonas (2001)) and, in
particular, they point out that the influence of fine-scale turbulence on the
condensation process may be limited. Shaw also points to mechanisms of fine-
scale intermittency, droplet number density fluctuations, entrainment and
mixing in addition to the processes of collision and coalescence. From the
discussions given in these two reviews, it is clear that an exploration into
fluid–particle interactions that does not depend sensitively on the droplet
clustering mechanisms should be explored further. Nevertheless, these and other
full-scale and laboratory studies agree that the coalescence of cloud droplets is

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3062 S. Ghosh and others

increased by turbulence especially near the radius of about 20 mm (Jonas &

Goldsmith 1972). To date, there have been no attempts to explain this apparent
contradiction. Our approach considers an important mechanism in addition to
the various other mechanisms reviewed.
Apart from these areas of research interests that we have just discussed,
another active ongoing research area relates to the modification of collision
efficiencies of colliding droplets in turbulence. A literature survey (including the
reviews by Shaw 2003; Vaillancourt & Yau 2000) unanimously point out that
the collision efficiency of cloud droplets can be increased by turbulence–particle
interactions. Pinsky et al. (2000) have calculated collision efficiencies of small
cloud droplets in a turbulent flow and found that the mean values of the
collision efficiency and the kernel are higher in turbulent flows than in still air.
This is an ongoing research area in cloud microphysical studies and featured
prominently at the recent 14th International Conference in Cloud Physics in
July 2004. Papers by Erlick et al. (2004), Franklin et al. (2004), Pinsky et al.
(2004) and Wang et al. (2004) have presented recent estimates on collision
efficiencies and collision rates in turbulence. The results from these studies have
enabled us to obtain a broad estimate of the collision kernel enhancements in
The objective of this paper is to apply recent research (which is reviewed in §2)
on the enhanced settling of particles in turbulent flows. This leads to new
quantitative estimates for the particle motion in the typical vortices of high Re
turbulence and the consequences on the droplet distribution. It is shown how this
rational theory can be applied to various physical situations. Our calculations
and scaling analysis establish a critical droplet size for droplet fall velocity
enhancements when an ensemble of droplets interacts with a vortex. The critical
size prescribes the fall speed that should be right for this amplification to be most
effective. In addition, our proposed mechanism, associated with unequal droplet
sizes, is not dependent on higher particle concentrations around vortices (as
proposed by Falkovich et al. 2002), where the higher number concentrations
ensure enhanced droplet collisions.
The structure of the paper is as follows. In §2, we discuss the broad issues of
the interaction between particles and fluid turbulence and review the dominant
mechanisms that can affect cloud microphysical processes. In §3, we discuss the
main theoretical considerations leading to our new estimates of the average
settling rates for particles around vortices and the mechanism of enhanced
collisions between particles of different sizes. This is followed by applications of
the theory to turbulent flows and comparison with laboratory experiments. In §4,
we apply our theoretical and experimental results to cloud microphysical
simulations. We evaluate the evolution of a typical cloud droplet spectrum with
and without the centrifuging action of the vortices. Finally, we evaluate raindrop
spectra with and without turbulence effects, and are able to predict the
existence/non existence of large raindrops without artificial adjustments for the
first time. Although other mechanisms have been proposed for turbulent
enhancement of rain formation, none have been able to produce a broad
spectrum simply by including turbulence assisted collisions in the spectral
development. In §5, we discuss the wider applications of this model to particles,
droplets and bubbles in liquids.

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2. Particle movement and interactions

(a) Review of numerical simulations

The interaction between particles and turbulent eddies with typical time-scale
TL are studied using numerical simulations, laboratory measurements and
theory. Some of these earlier numerical results have shown that inertial bias
causes particles to accumulate on the outside of twisted tube-like vortical
structures (Jiménez et al. 1993), with the general tendency of the particles being
to disperse faster than fluid elements (e.g. Squires & Eaton 1991). Maxey &
Corrsin (1986), Maxey (1987), and Wang & Maxey (1993) showed by numerical
simulations that the settling rate VT of typical inertial particles with time-scale
tp may be slightly larger (!20%) than the terminal velocity in still fluid VTO
because the particles tend to fall preferentially in the downward flow regions of
the velocity field, which are generally formed between neighbouring regions of
vorticity. In addition, some direct numerical simulation (DNS) studies by
Sundaram & Collins (1997) and Yang & Lei (1998) have also been reported with
conclusions broadly similar to those obtained from Wang & Maxey (1993).
Fevrier (2000) showed that this increase could be substantially greater for a
particular range of inertial particles for which the Stokes number StZtp/TLO0
and were found to accumulate in regions of low vorticity and high strain rates
(Squires & Eaton 1991). The earlier results of Wang & Maxey (1993) have shown
how small-scale dynamics cause intense vorticity in turbulent flows to form at
dissipation-range scales and that particles accumulate in the low vorticity
regions of the flow. They do not accumulate here because the flow is faster and
there are straining regions. However, they do spend an increased time at particle-
stagnation points. Their numerical results in homogeneous isotropic turbulence
indicated that maximum preferential accumulation occurs when the inertial
time-scale of the particles are comparable to the smallest time-scales of the flow.
Because of the intense vorticity at the dissipation range scales, this suggests that
particles accumulate in the low vorticity regions of the flow and are centrifuged
away from the vortex cores. However, the fact that certain particles are deflected
into particular zones around vortices increases the local void fraction of the
particles. Could this effect further increase the fluid interaction between these
particles and increase their fall speed (in proportion to the local concentration)?
This is the suggestion of Hainaux et al. (2000), who recently measured the fall
speed of particles in a turbulent air stream. As we shall show, this is a weaker
effect for cloud particles than the former effect of inertial particles moving in the
downflow side of the vortices. The question of the role of local concentration is
also important for estimating collisions between droplets; the first mechanism we
show to be the most effective is that the relative speeds of particles and therefore
collision rates for different sizes are enhanced by their motion around turbulent
vortices. The second is that certain sizes of particles are concentrated around
these vortices, so that they encounter each other more often than in the
surrounding flow and their relative acceleration is thereby affected.

(b) Effects of isolated vortices on droplet settling

To understand and model the average settling velocity VT of small dense
particles (such as cloud droplets) descending and colliding in turbulence, we

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3064 S. Ghosh and others

apply the results of Dávila & Hunt (2001) to analyse particles around an isolated
vortex with circulation G (with radius Rv and maximum velocity UvZG/Rv).
(Note that, generally, the acceleration in a Kolmogorov micro-scale eddy is small
relative to that due to gravity (i.e. e3=4 =ðn1=4 gÞ10K1 ), but there are occasional
intense vortices where this inequality does not apply). The very small particles
with radius a have an acceleration
dV 1
Z ðu C v TO K V Þ; (2.1)
dt tp

where v is the velocity of the particle and u is the unperturbed velocity of the
fluid at the position of the particle. The settling or terminal velocity in still fluid
estimated by using Stokes linear drag law is

VTO xgðb K 1Þa 2 =ð9n=2Þ; (2.2)

which the particles reach after a ‘relaxation time’

tp Z ð2=9Þðb K 1Þa2 =n; (2.3)

where n is the kinematic viscosity of the fluid (ca 10K5 m2 sK1 in air) and b is the
ratio of the density of the particle to that of the fluid (ca 103 for cloud droplets).
These quantities provide the reference scales for considering how the particle
moves near a vortex. Numerically, the trajectories of the particles can be
obtained by integrating (2.1) together with dX/dtZV given certain initial
conditions (e.g. V ðX 0 ; t0 ÞZ uðX 0 ÞC V TO ). Where the ratio, u, of the terminal
velocity VTO to the maximum velocity in the vortex Uv is less than about 1.0,
Dávila & Hunt (2001) show that the effect of the vortex on the settling velocity is
determined by the non-dimensional ‘particle Froude number’ Fp, defined by the
ratio of the stopping distance (VTOtp) of the droplet to the characteristic radius
(G/VTO) of the trajectory of the droplet around the vortex:
VTO tp
Fp Z : (2.4)

It should also be noted that the new definition of the particle Froude number in
equation (2.4) enables us to also obtain an alternative definition of the Stokes
number, which is more relevant to our analysis than the conventional definition.
The Stokes number defined in Dávila & Hunt (2001) is defined as tp/tr, where tr
is the residence time of a fluid particle around the vortices. Further, if the
residence time of the particles to move around the vortices is much shorter than
the lifetime of the vortical structures, then particle trajectories can be calculated
by considering that the flow is stationary (see Dávila & Hunt 2001). Using the
result of that paper and that of Vincent & Meneguzzi (1994), this can be
expressed as G=VTO / TI . TI is a time-scale of the order of the ratio of a typical
large length-scale and a typical velocity-scale, and is therefore usually in the
range of 10–100 s.
When the effect of the particle inertia is very small (Fp/1), it passes round
the vortex and the net change in VT (averaged over the whole life of the particle

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3065

near the vortex and over a range of starting positions on the scale of G/VTO
or Rv, whichever is the larger) from its value VTO in still fluid is negligible (i.e.
vZVT/VTOx1.0). However, when the inertia is large enough that FpwO(1), the
particles are flung outwards; then, v rapidly increases to a maximum value vmax
of about 2.0 (for 1.0RuR0.7, where FpxFpmax). With a small further increase in
inertia, the particles ‘crash’ through the vortex and are on average slightly
delayed, so that v is reduced to a minimum value vmin of about 0.7 (for u%1.0
where FpZFpminx4). For very large inertia or large u, the vortex has negligible
effect on the settling rate, and vZ1.0. (These values of vmax and vmin are
calculated for particles released at a level above the vortex equal to about 10
times its radius Rv, falling to an equivalent distance below the vortex.) In
addition, large inertia particles have a stopping distance VTOtp greater than the
distance between the eddies Dlv (see figure 2a) so that they average out the effect
of individual eddies and vx1. It is important to point out that vR1.0 and
Fp%1.0 for droplets with radii in the range of 5–10 mm, ensuring velocity
enhancements even in this size range. This has significant cloud microphysical
implications. First, droplet pairs within this regime have their fall velocities
enhanced when they interact with the micro-scale vortices within clouds and this
can lead to increased collision and capturing among droplets that eventually
yield realistic spectral distributions (see figure 6). Secondly, our analysis also
supports the well-established observation that collisions between unequal droplet
sizes are favoured over collisions between droplet pairs that have similar sizes
(see figure 4a,b).
Qualitatively, these results are well known, experimentally and theoretically,
particularly the ‘centrifuging’ out of inertial particles in gas and liquid flows and
changes in the settling velocities of particles in turbulent flows with vortices
(Maxey 1987; Perkins et al. 1991; Fung 1993). However, a systematic calculation
for the increase and decrease in the average settling velocity over a wide
parameter range is new, as is the derivation of a new scaling in terms of (G/VTO),
to replace other definitions of the Stokes number for vortices (e.g. Marcu et al.
1995). The trapping of inertial particles in vortices (Toobey et al. 1977) found in
hydraulic flows is not relevant here where b is very large.
The motions of the particles around a vortex vary greatly if their sizes lie
within certain ranges. This can substantially increase the probability of collisions
in a time tc between pairs of different sizes, with large and small radii a, a^,
respectively, having terminal fall speeds VTO ð a Þ, VTO ð^
aÞ. In still air, the
probability Pc is proportional to the length of a vertical collision line lco in which
all the larger particles must be positioned at tZ0 if they are to collide with the
smaller particle in time Dtc, where lco Z Dtc ðVTO ð a ÞK VTO ð^
aÞÞ. As the large
particle moves round a vortex (see figure 3a,b) starting at time tZ0, it collides
with a small particle also released at time tZ0, if they start on a curved ‘collision
line’ lc. If the large particle lies in the critical range where VT is significantly
greater than VTO, then because lc is greater than lco, the probability of a collision
is proportionally greater.

(c) Collisions of droplet pairs around isolated vortex lines

In addition to the considerations described above, some other interesting
features emerge from the Dávila & Hunt (2001) theory, which relate to droplets

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3066 S. Ghosh and others



∆ lv


VTO 1.0

0 Fp
10–3 10–2 10–1 1 101 102
0.3 0.45 0.7 1.0 1.5 2.25


d(a /acr)

0.3 0.45 0.7 1.0 1.5 2.25

Figure 2. Mechanisms of particles falling near vortices: (a) typical trajectories of settling particles
A, B, C moving around a vortex with strength G and radius Rv with increasing fall speed VTO.
Here, Dlv is the distance between vortices; (b) average settling velocity ratio VT/VTO versus the
particle Froude number Fp and particle radius ratio a/acr; (c) d(VT/VTO)/d(a/acr) versus a/acr.

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Figure 3. Collision mechanisms: (a) colliding droplets settling in still air in the absence of vortices
with larger and smaller radii a, a^. Note the vertical collision distance lco; (b) colliding droplets
descending near an isolated vortex. Note the curved collision line with length lc; the large droplet
collides with a smaller droplet both released at tZ0, if they start on the curved collision line; (c)
variation of lc relative to lco for still fluid over a typical horizontal distance, El Z ðlc =lco K 1Þ!
ðDtc V TO Þ=ðG=V^ TO Þ for smaller particles with F^ p Z 4 and V^ TO Z 0:7, and larger particles with
F p Z 5 and V TO Z 0:8.

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3068 S. Ghosh and others

interacting within intense vortex lines. Two additional collision mechanisms are
relevant to cloud microphysical calculations. Firstly, for droplets moving
between line vortices, the ratio of the average collision length to the length in
still air hlci/lco in a horizontal box of size Dlv can be expressed in a closed form
after some algebra (see appendix A):

hlc i ðG=V^ TO Þ2 D^ K l2 D

Z1C : (2.5)
lco ^ TO 1 K l
Dlv Dtc V
As before, lco is the collision distance taken by a large droplet of radius a to
collide with a small droplet of radius a^ in time Dt c in still fluid
ðlco Z ðV TO K V^ TO ÞDtc Þ. V TO and V ^ TO are the settling velocities of the large
and the small droplets in still fluid. Dlv is typically a measure of the distance
between the vortices, which is comparable to the vortex diameter and
lZ V^ TO =V TO ðl! 1Þ, D ^ and D  are the dimensionless ‘drift’ integrals correspond-
ing to the small and large droplets. When Fp%1, both D! ^ 0 and D  !0 and
2 ^
jl Dj! jDj. This results in a smaller collision distance (i.e. hlci/lco!1). This
implies that in order to have the maximum collision enhancement induced by
turbulence the droplet radii must be such that D ^ !0. Equation (2.5) shows that
hlci/lco increases in proportion to the effective trapping radius of the vortex
G=V^ TO and inversely to the assumed time between collision Dtc. Hence, we define
a normalized value of the fraction of the collision length increment for the
distance between the intense vortex lines given by El Z ðlc =lco K 1Þ
ðDtc V TO Þ=ðG=V^ TO Þ. By calculating how lc varies over a typical range of the
initial location X0, one can estimate the average value of lc, hlci, for all particles of
a particular size a descending round a typical vortex and thence the average
value of El and the probability pð a ; a^Þ that a larger particle will collide with a
smaller particle of size a^. The ratio hlci/lco is a measure of the increase in this
probability compared with collisions in still fluid. The calculations show that lc
has a maximum at an initial position X0M for the small particle corresponding to
smaller velocities than in still fluid, and for the large particle larger velocities
than in still fluid (these particles pass close to the equilibrium points described by
Dávila & Hunt 2001). Smaller particles moving in the downflow side of the vortex
settle faster, which implies that lc has a minimum at X0M corresponding to
particles moving on that region. This variation is shown in figure 3c.
Considering cloud droplets settling in air with radii between 10 and 35 mm,
and with a typical vortex circulation GZ1.5!10K4 m2 sK1 (assuming G ca 10n)
and radius RvZ1.5 mm, it is found that El is negative up to droplet radii smaller
than 35 mm. This shows that for the most efficient droplet capture between an
ensemble of colliding droplets, the maximum collision enhancement is achieved
when there are some droplets whose radii exceed 35 mm. However, when the
droplet radius is somewhat greater than 35 mm, El changes sign leading to
collision enhancements, since the drift integral DO0 for values of FpO1
(see fig. 10 of Dávila & Hunt 2001). For Fp!1 the effect of the vortices on the
average settling velocities of droplets is smaller for the larger particles. This is
because the effective area of the line vortices that modify the droplet trajectories,
ðG=V^ TO Þ2 , decreases as a4. As in the theory of Falkovich (2002), it appears that
collision rates are not simply related to fall speed or to concentration or
probabilities of lying in the vortex core.

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Figure 4a,b shows the position of droplet pairs with radii 20 and 25 mm and 5
to 10 mm, respectively. The X- and Y-axes are each normalized with the vortex
radius Rv. These are calculated using (2.1) as in Dávila & Hunt (2001) for the
droplet pairs moving around a vortex with circulation GZ1.5!10K4 m2 sK1 and
radius RvZ1.5 mm (to consider the effect of gravity in non-horizontal vortices,
the terminal velocity should be projected on the plane perpendicular to the
vortex axis). Figure 4a shows that for the 20–25 mm droplet pair (with a 20%
difference in radius), there is a very small increase in the probability of collisions,
whereas for the 5 to 10 mm pair (with 100% difference), there are multiple
collisions (figure 4b). This indicates that this vortex–particle model is consistent
with the well-established observational result that the probability of collision
between droplets of unequal sizes is higher than the collision probability of
similarly sized droplets.
Other theories have addressed the issue of droplet spectral broadening by
invoking various mechanisms that depend sensitively on turbulent energy
dissipation (Pinsky & Khain 1997b), on enhanced droplet concentrations around
vortices (note that the higher number concentration ensures enhanced droplet
collisions) as in the Falkovich (2002) study or on particle interactions with
intense vortex tubes (as in the Shaw 2000 study), which are again concentration-
dependent. Shaw’s scale analysis also showed that the vortex tubes were
sufficiently intense and persistent so that they caused larger flux divergences in
the local concentrations of cloud droplets. From our analysis, we have been able
to explicitly show that the probability of collision between two droplets with
widely different radii are much higher than collisions between droplets having
comparable radii—a well established observational result (Pruppacher & Klett
1997). This feature is not apparent in these earlier theories.
Collisions involving very small droplets (for which Fp!1 and u!1) can also
occur within the vortices (see figure 2a). As explained above, most of these
particles that fall towards a vortex are advected towards it and tend to be swept
around the vortex by the mean streamlines and by their own inertia in the curved
flow (e.g. Squires & Eaton 1991). However, as a result of other mechanisms in the
interior of such vortices, a significant number of small particles may be present.
This is firstly because as such vortices grow on a time-scale tv (e.g. Jiménez et al.
1993) and they surround any small particle present provided tp!tv. Then, the
vortices trap the particles for a certain time tvp. In high Reynolds number
turbulence tv wðe=nÞK1=2 w10K1 s in typical clouds (Pruppacher & Klett 1997).
Usually, the vortices last for a longer period as they decay than during their growth
phase. For a typical 10 mm droplet, tpw10K3 s, so that these droplets can certainly
be trapped. The time for such low inertial particles with a fall speed VT to escape
beyond the cavity region is given by tvpwRp/vp, where RpwG/VTO and
np wðVTO tp ÞðVTO =Rp Þ. Thence tvp wgG2 =VTO 5
(provided Fp!1). Typically,
for 10 to 20 mm particles in the atmosphere, RpwRv for micro-scale eddies and
tvpTtv. We conclude that the critical scale, small inertia, particles can remain
trapped in these vortices over the lifetime of the micro-scale vortices. (Although
direct numerical simulations cannot describe micro-scale dynamics in turbulence
with a realistic spectrum, they do show low concentrations of small inertial
particles in the most intense vortices (Squires & Eaton 1991).)
This trapping mechanism in the smallest eddies gives rise to two collision
mechanisms, which differ from those outside the vortices. The first involves

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3070 S. Ghosh and others

(a) 25





–20 –15 –10 –5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30

(b) 250









–200 –150 –100 –50 0 50 100 150 200 250 300

Figure 4. (a) Colliding droplet pairs with radii 20 and 25 mm descending near an isolated vortex
with circulation GZ1.5!10K4 m2 sK1 and radius RvZ1.5 mm calculated from the Dávila & Hunt
(2001) theory. Note the absence of collisions. (b) Colliding droplet pairs with radii 5 and 10 mm
descending near an isolated vortex with circulation GZ1.5!10K4 m2 sK1 and radius RvZ1.5 mm
calculated from the Dávila & Hunt (2001) theory. Note the presence of multiple collisions.

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Table 1. Particle settling ratios outside and inside vortices showing how in different ranges of the
stopping/vortex ratio Fp the effective particle settling velocity vZVT/VTO normalized on its value in
still fluid, is increased or decreased for characteristic vortices
(Here we focus on critical particle sizes where Fpw1, which implies that for typical Kolmogorov
micro-scale eddies acrw(n/(bK1))1/2(g/RK1/4
v ); that is, acr ca 20 mm in air, acr ca 1 mm in water.)

Fp/1 Fp(1 FpT1 Fp[1

external particlesa vT 1½1E v O1½2E v !1½3E v w 1½4E

internal particlesb v( 1½1I v( 1½2I v !1½3I v w 1½4I
Note that the effect on v of external particles is only significant if VTOtp!Dlv.bParticles can only
be trapped within a vortex if tp!tv and only spend a significant time there, in relation to its
passage around the vortex, if tvpTRv/VTO.

critical scale particles (FpT1), which are initially trapped and then thrown out,
and in doing so, collide with very small particles (Fp/1). The second involves
all the small particles (Fp!1, v!1), which are trapped and therefore collide with
any much larger particles (FpT1, vO1), which crash through these vortices
without being deflected.
Thus, applying the two set of results to the overall distributions of droplets
and vortices, we conclude that there are two ranges of the vortex–droplet
parameters that need to be considered (see table 1 below).
From this table, it is clear that the greatest differences of relative settling
velocity occur between particles in categories [2]E, [3]E in the table; that is,
for the external particles that lie outside the vortices and in a size range
close to that of the critical diameter acr, as defined by Fpw1, uw1. For the
internal particles that are trapped, the largest difference occurs between large
particles that cut through the vortex [4]I and the small particles that are
trapped [2]I.
From the point of view of collisions, the difference in the former category of
external particles is more significant because it applies to small particles that are
close in size to each other. These are more numerous than the larger particles and
are continuously being nucleated.
Although our calculations have been mainly concerned with cloud droplets
with radii ca 20 mm interacting with micro-scale eddies, it is also possible that
turbulence can modify the settling rates of the larger droplets interacting with
even larger eddies. However, from equation (3.5) (see §3 below), we note that
because the critical radius acr has a 1/6 power dependence on the vortex
circulation, its value even for inertial range eddies lies in the range 20–30 mm.

3. Applications to turbulence: experiments and

prediction of critical particle sizes

The previous theoretical concepts for particles near vortices are now compared
with Srdic and Fernando’s (Srdic 1998) laboratory measurements. Using the
Digimage system, they studied the effects of ‘mixing-box’ turbulence on the settling
of small dense particles in water with radii varying between 22.5 and 355 mm over

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3072 S. Ghosh and others

a range of b between 1.4 and 8.7. In these experiments, the spectrum was only large
enough for the small scales, approximate to that of high Reynolds number inertial
range turbulence over a limited range of scales (Kit et al. 1997), but the Reynolds
number was large enough (Rex200) so that there were active vortical motion with
vortices formed having diameters with typical magnitude R and circulation G(R).
These were observed to be separated by distances of the order of R. Thus, in
figure 2a, the net effect of a vortex on the fall speed is only significant for particles
when the characteristic distance G/VTO is less than the distance Dlv between the
eddies, that is, if
VT tp ! R: (3.1)
The speeding up effect of the vortices on VT is a maximum when Fpw1, where
Fp Z VTO tp =G. Srdic and Fernando’s experimental results for v plotted as a
function of a large-scale particle Froude ratio FPL Z VTO tp =ðUL LÞ (where UL is the
maximum vortex velocity with radius L) showed that v increased from 1.3 to about
1.8 when FPL was about 0.8!10K3 (G20%), and decreased to about 0.8 for
FPL x3 ! 10 K 3 . As noted previously, in Fevrier’s (2000) simulations, this range of
increase and decrease in v was also found. For FPL greater than 4!10K3 v was equal
to 1.0. These low values of large scale FPL correspond to values of Fp of order unity
for micro-scale vortices in the flow (with characteristic velocity Ukw(en)1/4 and
length-scale Rkw(e/n3)K1/4). The fact that the particle motions were primarily
distorted by small-scale vortices was confirmed by the measured small spikes in the
frequency spectrum of the velocity of the particle at the micro time-scale lk/vk. The
experiment not only confirmed the prediction of a significantly larger increase than
decrease in settling velocity over a narrow parameter range, but also showed how
‘empty’ regions exist around and below the vortices from which the inertial
particles have been expelled. This was expected from the theory when the ratio
uL(ZVTO/UL) was between 0.2 and 1.2.
Applying these results to the settling of the smallest droplets in a cloud with a
radius a, it follows that v(a) can only be significantly increased if vortical eddies
exist of scale R whose strength G is such that Fp(R)w1. Therefore, from
equations (2.2) and (2.3)

2 a 6 g2 ðb K 1Þ3
GðRÞ wVTO tp w : (3.2)
ð9=2Þ3 n3
Analysing the structure of turbulence provides an estimate for G(R) for the
vortices formed over many scales with radius R (e.g. Sundaram & Collins 1997;
Hunt 2000). At the micro-scales where RZRk, the circulation
G Z Gk wUk Rk wðenÞ1=4 ðn3 =eÞ1=4 wn: (3.3)
A key point of this theory is the observation that Gk is independent of the
energy of the turbulence. Physically, this is because as e increases, the peak
velocity Uk increases, but the radius Rk decreases by the same amount. For RO
Rk, the circulation of eddies in the inertial range G(R) increases with their
radius as
GðRÞ wnðR=Rk Þ4=3 : (3.4)

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From equation (3.2), it follows that the smallest radius acr of droplets whose
settling velocities are increased (by up to about 80%) is given by

acr wn2=3 gK1=3 ðb K 1ÞK1=2 : (3.5)

In air acrw20 mm, and in water, for bZ2, acrw100 mm. Note that for these
particles in the micro-scale eddies
gba2 =n
VTO =Uk w ; (3.6)
for aw10 mm. This shows why the turbulence must be intense enough and e
large enough for VTO/Uk(1. Thus, for droplets with a smaller radius than
20 mm, since VT increases in proportion to a2, Fp is much less than 1.0 and
therefore the particle fall speed is not on average increased (i.e. vx1). In a high
Reynolds number turbulence where there is a full inertial range of vortical
eddies varying in size (R) down to the Kolmogorov micro-scale, typical
velocities increases with radius U(R)we1/3R1/3. We can apply the formula (3.2)
to estimate the critical size of particles acr(R) that are accelerated by eddies
with scale R larger than Rk; it follows that

acr ðRÞ=acr ðRk Þ xðR=Rk Þ1=6 : (3.7)

This shows that even the eddies that are 100 times larger than the micro-scale
eddies also tend to accelerate and concentrate particles with diameters in the
range 20–30 mm. This is why the result (3.5) is quite robust.
We also have to consider the ratio VT(acr(R))/U(R) for the critical size of
particles for eddies in this range. The typical eddy velocity U(R)w(e1/3R1/3)
increases in proportion to R1/3, and from (2.2), (3.7) (VT(acr)) increases as a2 or
R1/3. It follows that the ratio VT(acr(R))/U(R) is approximately constant so that
if (3.6) is satisfied the basic criterion for the ‘acceleration’ effect is satisfied for all
particles in this range.
When particles reach 80–100 mm, their fall speed becomes comparable with
that of the energy containing eddies in the turbulence so that U(R) reaches its
maximum value. Then, VT/U(R) increases and the acceleration effect ceases.
These calculations are consistent with the experiments of Srdic and Fernando
and earlier measurements of enhanced settling rates. In fact, experimental
evidence of much enhanced sedimentation in turbulence (by even more than
80%) was observed by Nielsen (1992). When the void fraction is greater than
the typical cloud value of about 10K5 (or the mass loading greater than 10K2),
the tendency of inertial particles in the critical range to be concentrated
(around vortices) causes them to settle even faster (Hainaux et al. 2000).
(As discussed in §2, we conclude this is not the relevant mechanism for cloud
droplet formation.)
In order to justify the applicability of the Dávila & Hunt (2001) calculations to
cloud microphysics, some further fluid mechanical details need to be elaborated.
This is now discussed. First, it is important to note that the vortex representation
in the Dávila & Hunt formulation can indeed be applicable to clouds. The theory is
not only valid for horizontal vortices (see eqn (6.3) of that paper). Although the
calculation of the drift integral in the Dávila & Hunt paper is for horizontal

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3074 S. Ghosh and others

vortices, one can work with the projection of the terminal velocity on the plane
perpendicular to the vortex axis for any other orientation. We have focused on the
effect of cylindrical vortices because only in regions of strong vorticity can the
trajectories of heavy particles change so that the average velocity is altered. This is
based on the fact that slow accelerations lead to small Stokes–Froude numbers for
the particles and therefore the average velocity is close to that in still fluid.
Moreover, as pointed out by Maxey (1987) and others, only regions of high
vorticity can create nearly empty regions and deviations in particle trajectories.
We ensured that the inter-vortex distance was comparable to the diameters of the
vortices. We have considered only values of vortex circulation of the order of the
kinematic viscosity, the typical values found in DNS, although Jiménez et al.
(1993) suggest that there may be a weak pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi dependence on the Reynolds number
based on the Taylor micro-scale ðGf Rel Þ.
The methodology of this calculation is not based on a precise statement that
turbulence consists exclusively of vortices. It is an approximate physical
calculation in which one isolates a mechanism that has a strong macroscopic
effect and estimates its significance in relation to overall data. This has always
been the approach in cloud physics studies, and the earlier results have not been
in agreement with data because the collision/settling mechanism was not the
most significant mechanism. The sign and magnitude of the effects of the
mechanism do not depend sensitively on the precise distribution and orientation
of vortices.
The laboratory experiments of homogeneous turbulence of Srdic and Fernando
(Re of about 100; Srdic 1998) show through visualization how particles of a
certain size are deflected/excluded from random vortices in the flow. More
significantly, they show how the mean fall speed rises (by 80%) and falls (by
20%) with turbulence relative to still fluid by an amount that approximately
corresponds to the Dávila & Hunt (2001) calculation for a typical distribution of
single vortices. The separations of the vortices are comparable with the diameter
of the vortices.
For very high Reynolds number turbulence, there is still no detailed data
available; except laboratory visualizations (e.g. by Douady et al. 1991) certainly
show these structures exist and with a distribution in space (a factor of 10 radii
between them) quite comparable with the hypothesized spacing in the Davila
and Hunt model.
There is some evidence from the experiments and numerical simulations of
Perkins et al. (1991) that the increased fall speed is also found in inhomogeneous
shear flows. They found that in a horizontal turbulent air jet, small inertia
particles, where VTwuo, were found to fall significantly faster than in still air,
but for the heavier particles, where VTOuo, there was no such effect. This
explains the discrepancy presented in that paper between the experimental
results and the predictions of their stochastic simulation model which did not
account for the faster settling of particles (which is normally assumed in such
Finally, we wish to point out that the Dávila and Hunt mechanism has now
been referred to in recent work concerned with rain enhancements in turbulence
as in the Falvovich (2002) paper published in Nature and also in the review paper
by Shaw (2003).

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4. Droplets in cloud turbulence

(a) Collision rates

The collision rate C ð a ; a^Þ between larger droplets (collector droplets) of radius a
and smaller droplets (collected droplets) of radius a^ is determined by the velocity
difference DVT ða ; a^Þ between the droplets and the efficiency E with which they
collide. The velocity enhancements are size dependent, as was shown by Dávila &
Hunt (2001), and hence the relative velocity DVT ð a ; a^Þ between droplet pairs is
very often different from a conventional relative velocity using still air fall
velocities. Although we have seen in figure 3b,c how the collision process is
complex around a vortex, an estimate for the collision rate allowing for its
increase in these vortical flows is
C ð
a ; a^Þ Z jDVT ð
a ; a^ÞjEð
a ; a^Þ; (4.1)
where Eð a ; a^Þ (O0) is the collision efficiency. We used the stochastic collection
equation (SCE) solver employing the flux method developed by Bott (1998).
From various sensitivity studies, Bott (1998) showed that the flux method
remains numerically stable for different choices of the grid mesh and the
integration time-step. The hydrodynamic collection kernel that is used in the
SCE solver is simply the collision rate given by equation (4.1) multiplied by
pða C a^Þ2 (Pruppacher & Klett 1997). In the original SCE solver developed by
Bott (1998), the collision efficiencies were taken from Long (1974), although Bott
(1998) used other collision efficiencies (e.g. Davis 1972; Hall 1980) for various
numerical experiments with satisfactory results. While evaluating the hydro-
dynamic kernels, we used look-up tables for specifying the collision efficiencies,
which varied with every pair of the collector and the collected drop radii. In our
paper, since we are mainly concerned with relatively small droplets (where the
collector drop radius a !40 mm) the data are taken from Davis (1972) and Jonas
(1972). Figure 5a shows the kernels with and without the effects of enhanced
sedimentation; the solid lines correspond to the case with the enhanced
sedimentation and the dashed lines to pure gravitational settling. In order to
single out the sedimentation effects exclusively, we did not enhance the
hydrodynamic kernels in this figure; that is, the same collision efficiencies were
used for both set of curves shown in figure 5a. Figure 5a shows that with the
effects of turbulence, which increases DVT for certain pairs of droplet radii (see
figure 2b), the hydrodynamic kernel values can be up to about 15–35% higher,
because of the enhanced sedimentation alone. This increase is evident for droplet
radii pairs up to 16 mm. For droplet pairs approaching 40 mm, there is even a
reversal of the contours. This is because with larger droplet pairs, the fall velocity
enhancements are proportionately smaller. As a result, the velocity difference
between the droplet pairs is actually smaller than the velocity difference without
turbulence effects, and this causes a reversal of the contours. However, it is
unrealistic to use still air collision efficiencies when one considers settling of
droplets in turbulence, because the settling rates are enhanced in turbulence, and
the collision efficiencies are also expected to increase, causing an overall increase
in the hydrodynamic kernel. This feature is implicit in the Dávila & Hunt (2001)
theory, which shows that with increasing settling rates, the collision efficiencies
are expected to be higher and can indeed be enhanced by at least 50–100%.

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3076 S. Ghosh and others

(a) 40 3

0 1
× 1
1× 1
radius of captured drops (µm) 10 –
10 713 –10
30 –1–
010 10
×11× 1×
20 1×




– 1
0 10


10 –

0 –13

– 1×10 –10

10 –12
1× –15 –15 –13
0 10 20 30 40
radius of capturing drops (µm)
(b) 40

0 1×

10 –1
radius of captured drops (µm)

30 –1–7
1× 010

10 – 1


–1 5
103 –1

×1 1

10 –


0 –13

–0–17 1×10–10

×110 –12
11× 1×10–13
0 10 20 30 40
radius of capturing drops (µm)

Figure 5. (a) Collision kernel (pð a C a^Þ2 Eð a ; a^Þj) (m3 sK1) with (solid lines) and without
a ; a^ÞjDVT ð
(dotted lines) turbulence induced enhancements of the differences DVT in the settling velocities.
In order to single out the sedimentation effects, the collision efficiencies Eð a; a^Þ are not enhanced.
a and a^ are the radii of the larger capturing drops and the captured collected drops, respectively.
(b) Collision kernel (p a C a^Þ2 Eð a; a^Þj) (m3 sK1) with (solid lines) and without (dotted
a; a^ÞjDVT ð
lines) turbulence induced enhancements of the differences DVT in the settling velocities. In order
to include turbulence effects on the sedimentation as well as on the collision efficiencies Eð a; a^Þ,
the turbulent kernel is enhanced by 50%. a and a^ are the radii of the larger capturing drops and
the captured collected drops, respectively. (c) Mass distribution after 15 min without (dotted
line) and with (dashed line) the effects of turbulence induced velocity enhancements. The solid
line corresponds to the initial profile represented by a gamma distribution function with a
prescribed mean radius (8 mm) and cloud water content (2.75 g mK3). Note that a bimodal
spectrum is obtained only with the faster settling rates shown in (b).

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3077

(c) 5

mass distribution (g m–3/dln (radius))


0 10 100 1000
radius (µm)

Figure5.5. (Continued.)

From Dávila & Hunt (2001) one obtains progressively decreasing velocity
enhancements with increasing droplet sizes. For example, the enhancements
decrease from 90 to 18% as the droplet radii increase from 11 to 20 mm. For the
range of droplet sizes considered in this study, the velocity amplification effect is
the highest for the smallest droplets. With increasing droplet radii, the effect
progressively decreases; this is consistent with our discussions in §§2 and 3. Using
the Dávila & Hunt (2001) theory and the analysis of §3, our calculations are
extended over a wide range of Fp values. The computations depend sensitively on
the droplet size as the Dávila & Hunt (2001) paper implies, because the velocity
amplification ratio v increases in proportion to (1KaD), where D is the average
value of the ‘drift integral’ (which is essentially a measure of the difference
between the vertical settling distances with and without the vortex for particles
starting at a fixed point and falling for a fixed period of time) for different values
of Fp and VTO appearing in the flow. Here, a is the effective volume fraction
occupied by the vortices, so that a wððG=VTO Þ=Dlv Þ2 . D becomes more negative
with decreasing values of VTO, which varies as a2 for small cloud droplets; thus,
the VTO values become progressively smaller with smaller a and this causes
larger negative values of D and larger amplification. Therefore, for the
parameters relevant to this study, the velocity amplification effect fades with
increasing drop radii and becomes extremely small for aw40 mm.
In the recent study by Franklin et al. (2004), the authors showed that
increases in the collision kernels in turbulence can sometimes be larger by a
factor of 3. The Dávila & Hunt (2001) analysis also implicitly indicates that the
collision efficiencies can indeed be enhanced by up to 100%. We have performed
some sensitivity studies and found that with an increase of 50% in the collision

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3078 S. Ghosh and others

efficiency, the kernels with turbulence enhancements are always higher than the
still air kernels for all droplet pairs (see figure 5b). As expected, with even higher
increases in the collision efficiencies (not shown here for want of space) the
differences between the turbulent and the still air contours are even greater.
Although, there are two identical halves in figure 5a,b, owing to the symmetrical
kernels, only one half of the contours are considered, and the Bott (1998) code
ensures that there is no double counting. In order to study the impact of these
enhanced sedimentation rates, we applied them first to an idealized mass
distribution (shown as the solid line in figure 5c) and used the SCE solver to
study the spectral evolution with time. The initial mass distribution corresponds
to a total cloud water content of 2.75 g mK3 and a mean radius of 8 mm. In figure
5c, we have also shown the mass distribution after 15 min without (dotted line)
and with (dashed line) the effects of turbulence induced velocity enhancements.
Note that a bimodal spectrum is obtained only with the faster settling rates
shown in figure 5b. It is well known that when a bimodal spectrum develops, the
resulting collision-induced second mode has the propensity to rapidly initiate
rain formation.

(b) Droplet spectra in cumulus cloud

Because clouds consist of finite volumes of particles and water vapour moving
unsteadily, mainly up and down, the distribution or ‘spectrum’ of droplet sizes,
and thereby the formation of rain, have to be calculated as time dependant
processes. The development of the spectrum caused by collisions after the initial
condensational growth was calculated from the SCE (Pruppacher & Klett 1997)
using the Bott (1998) code, which accounts for the fact that not all droplets of a
given size grow at the same rate, since a small fraction of drops experience a
particularly favourable sequence of collisions and grow much more rapidly than
other drops.
Next, we show results from our model simulations where a perturbed gamma
distribution was used to create the initial distribution shown in figure 6.
The total liquid water content is 3.33 g mK3 and the mean droplet radius is
ca 7 mm. The initial mass distribution and a subsequent distribution are shown in
figure 6 where we have considered collisions between droplets over a time period
of 20 min. In these calculations, the fall velocity enhancements were calculated
using the Dávila & Hunt (2001) mechanism described earlier. The collision
kernels were enhanced by 50% (the solid lines in figure 5b) for simulating the
turbulent case. During a time span of 20 min, the small droplets with radii of
ca 10 mm can recirculate about four times within cloud eddies which typically
have length-scales of ca 50 m and circulation velocities of ca 1.0 msK1. Details of
the calculation procedure are given in appendix B. Further details of the flux
method for the numerical solution of the SCE can be found from Bott (1998).
We compared our model simulations with some observed data where a
collision-induced spectrum was observed. It must be pointed out that the present
calculations include only the process of spectral broadening owing to droplet
collisions while ignoring all other dynamical effects. Thus, for the sake of
consistency, we chose observed data points with radii greater than 15 mm to
compare with model runs; these larger drops are expected to have grown from
collisions. For a definitive model simulation vis-à-vis observations, one would

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3079

mass distribution (g m–3/dln (radius))

1 10 100
radius (µm)

Figure 6. Mass distribution in a cumulus cloud. The solid line represents an initial distribution with
a total liquid water content of 3.33 g mK3 and a mean droplet radius of 7 mm. The broader
distribution obtained with the faster settling rates (dashed line) agree better with the observations
as compared with the case with normal settling rates (dotted line). Both correspond to a simulation
time of 20 min. With the normal settling rates a longer time-interval is necessary to have the same
spread as for the case with the faster settling rates. The observed data points ( ) are from Mason &
Jonas (1974) based on cloud top measurements for a cumulus cloud 1.4 km deep.

need to use these calculations in a cloud model with detailed dynamical and
microphysical processes. This will form the basis of a later study. For the
moment, we have aimed to determine the effect of these higher collision rates on
the large end tail of a cumulus cloud spectrum. Figure 6 incorporates some
observations reported by Mason & Jonas (1974), where they computed the mean
of two spectra observed by Warner (1969a,b) near the top of a cumulus cloud
1.4 km deep. There are two peaks in the observed distribution—one centred
around 17 mm and a second around 24 mm radius. With the turbulence-enhanced
calculations, we obtain, as expected, a broader distribution that agrees
reasonably well with the observed data points; the second peak centred at
ca 24 mm is well captured. The simulation with the enhanced fall rates indicates
the presence of coalescence induced peaks for radii larger than 30 mm. Without
these enhanced collision rates, there is no second peak. The important point is
that within a time span of 20 min, we obtain a broader spectrum with the
enhanced collision rates than a conventional run. Without these enhanced fall
rates, the simulation would have to be extended for a longer time period to fall in
the range of the observed values.
These simulations suggest that even with small increase in the collision rates
ðC ð
a ; a^ÞÞ, because the droplet number concentration N(d ) decays exponentially

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3080 S. Ghosh and others

with increasing droplet size beyond the peak at aw7 mm, there is a large increase
in the capture of the small droplets with radii of the order of 10 mm. This leads to
the subsequent maxima in the droplet size distribution, for droplets of 17 and
24 mm radius. Without the enhancement, the latter is absent and the former is
less pronounced. For the typical cumulus-like air parcel in a cloud of depth h
 the period of its movement ðw h=w
with velocity w,  w 250 m=0:2 m s K 1 Þ is about
20 min. The computations and observations agree somewhat better when the
amplified fall velocities are accounted for, compared with the calculations based
only on still air fall velocities. In the latter case, even after 20 min of simulation,
the mass and consequently the number concentration corresponding to drops
with radii greater than 20 mm is very small. By contrast, when the number of the
larger cloud drops begin to grow exponentially by differential settling velocities
and by turbulence-enhanced collisions, the increase in mass (and consequently
N(d )) makes the difference between rain and no rain!
In §4.3 therefore we shall examine how the turbulence assisted fall velocity
amplifications can lead to a more accurate estimation of raindrop spectra in
stratocumulus clouds.

(c) Droplet spectra in Stratocumulus cloud

It is well recognized today by meteorologists that even shallow layers of warm
stratocumulus clouds are capable of producing drizzle that reaches the ground.
However, as Mason (1952) first pointed out, the production of precipitation-sized
particles by shallow layers of cloud is incompatible with simple models of drop
growth (invoking only the effects of condensation and coalescence). The
calculated growth rates were far too slow, because a drop would fall out of the
cloud long before attaining the size necessary to survive the fall to the ground.
However, Mason recognized that cloud turbulence could have an effect simply by
extending the residence time of the droplets within the cloud. This paper
provides a new approach for quantifying the effect, and a partial verification
using new observation techniques. Measurements of turbulence and drop size
spectra can now be made on instrumented aircraft and these measurements
confirm that turbulent diffusion is potentially important in determining the
vertical distribution of even quite large drops with radii of ca 100 mm, since
updraughts exceeding the terminal velocities of these large drops of ca 1 m sK1
are quite often observed. In a recent theoretical paper Ghosh & Jonas (2001)
derived some analytical expressions for the growth of drizzle drops in turbulent
clouds. Their estimates of the velocity amplification effects were based on the
Dávila & Hunt (2001) results and their calculations showed that it was necessary
to include the dependence of the radii of the smaller captured drop in the
collection growth equation in addition to the turbulence effects. The results from
this study were more consistent with observations than those of earlier theories
(e.g. Baker 1993) which neglected these effects.
Here, we consider the evolution of drizzle and apply it to another
stratocumulus related case study, which is based on observations of an
extensive, horizontally uniform stratocumulus cloud over the North Sea on 22
July 1982. The mean depth of the cloud was ca 450 m, the cloud ‘auto-
conversion’ rate (i.e. the rate at which cloud liquid water is partitioned as rain
water) was 3.2!10K9 kg mK3 sK1, the maximum horizontally averaged cloud

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3081

liquid water content was 0.6 g mK3 and drizzle was observed below the cloud
down to the lowest flight level (90 m above the sea level). The numerical model
developed by Nicholls (1987) describes the growth of precipitation-sized drops in
a warm stratocumulus cloud and combines the effects of stochastic turbulent
diffusions with explicit microphysical calculations. Further details of both the
observations and the model can be found in Nicholls (1987). The most significant
fact that emerged from this study is that there was a considerable improvement
of model predictions when the effect of air turbulence was considered with
vertical r.m.s. velocity fluctuations (swZ0.36 m sK1) as well as the Lagrangian
integral time-scale (TLZ360 s). Nicholls found that the distribution of mainly
the larger drops changed with sw. The concentration of droplets with radii
smaller than 20 mm responds rapidly to supersaturation and are controlled by
condensation and evaporation, and these are only minor variations with sw.
However, even with the inclusion of turbulent air velocity fluctuations, the
Nicholls model still substantially under-estimated the number densities of the
larger drops. Nevertheless, this study was a significant improvement over earlier
simpler models that ignored turbulence effects altogether. It showed for the first
time that steady-state concentrations of precipitation sized drops are found to be
increased by some orders of magnitude when realistic levels of turbulence are
included compared with an identical situation where swZ0. This arises, as
Nicholls pointed out, because a few particles have a relatively unlikely (but
finite) chance of encountering a significantly higher than average proportion of
updraughts. This leads to enhanced growth rates by extending their lifetimes
within cloud and in some cases by recycling drops upwards through regions of
higher liquid water content. This explains why even shallow layers of warm
cloud can produce significant amount of drizzle.
The main limitation of the Nicholls model is that he assumed that although
the cloud droplets are moved up and down by the turbulent updraughts and
downdraughts, their fall velocities are still equal to the classical still air values.
Baker (1993) proposed an analytic version of Nicholls’ model. The non-local
turbulence closure was replaced with a stochastic diffusion equation for a
turbulent plume of sedimenting raindrops. In addition, Baker (1993) specified a
production rate for the smallest raindrops, and let the diffusing drops grow by
accretion with a time constant determined by the liquid water content and the
size-dependent fall speed. This enables one to calculate an equilibrium raindrop
size distribution as a function of height within the cloud.
In this paper, we adopted the Baker (1993) model, but included the dependence of
the radii of the smaller captured droplets in the collection equation, using the Dávila
& Hunt (2001) results to calculate the new turbulence-enhanced fall speeds. In
figure 7, we show the equilibrium raindrop spectrum at a distance of 95 m above the
cloud base. We also show results from Nicholls (1987) as described in their
‘standard’ run. The observations are shown for droplet radii that are greater than
40 mm where the two-dimensional probe measurements are expected to be free from
any counting errors. From this figure, we find that the Nicholls model under-
estimates the number of large drops. In the next stage, we included the effects
of turbulence as by using parameters specified by Nicholls (1987), that is,
swZ0.36 m sK1 and TLZ360 s and used it in the equilibrium rain spectrum model
(for details, see Baker 1993; Ghosh & Jonas 2001). Although this second case
(marked Baker 1993 in figure 7) is an improvement over the case when swZ0, it does

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3082 S. Ghosh and others



conc. (cm–3 m m–1)



10–4 obs
this calc.
Baker (1993)
10–6 Nicholls (1987)

40 50 60 70 80 90 100 200
radius ( m m)

Figure 7. Raindroplet spectra for a drizzling stratocumulus cloud with and without the effects of
turbulence assisted fall velocity enhancements. The observational points (solid squares) are from
Nicholls (1987).

not yield the right number concentrations of the larger drops. In order to match the
observational results, Nicholls (1987) had to artificially alter the spectral shape to
slightly larger radii. When we used turbulence-enhanced collision rates using the
Dávila & Hunt (2001) formalism (marked ‘this calc.’ in figure 7), we find that the
resultant spectrum matched the observations well and without any artificial
adjustments. It yields drop number concentrations of ca 100 cmK3 for drop sizes of
ca 200 mm as is observed.

5. Wider implications

The analysis presented in this paper has shown how turbulent eddies amplify the
fall velocity of cloud droplets in the range 10–40 mm and thereby increases
collision kernels in the initial range of particle sizes and then leads to an
improved prediction of cloud and raindrop spectra. The theoretical and scaling
analysis, supported by matching laboratory experiments and numerical
simulations for settling velocities, have provided convincing results to
demonstrate the effectiveness of this centrifuging action for the first time. In
addition, when these amplified velocities are accounted for, the predicted cloud
and raindrop spectra agree well with observations. A bimodal spectrum is easily
produced—even with empirical elements, previous calculations could not achieve
that straightforwardly.

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3083

This paper also has wider geophysical as well as meteorological applications.

Our collision mechanism is consistent with the recent observational study by
Ghosh et al. (2000) and Rosenfeld (2000) concerning reduced growth of raindrop
when there is an excess of nucleation particles in urban areas. These studies
imply that in situations where cloud droplets grow in polluted air masses with a
very large number of nucleating particles, the resulting cloud droplets have
reduced sizes. This is because a great number of particles start competing with
each other for a limited amount of the available water vapour. As the droplet
sizes are reduced, the collision rates also fall, and this eventually leads to
precipitation suppression. Similarly, cloud seeding experiments afford another
application in this context. Seeding is usually achieved with larger sized particles
so that the nucleated particles can rapidly grow by collisions to yield
precipitation-sized drops. Our results suggest that if seeding experiments can
be conducted in a turbulent air mass, then the particles will actually fall faster
than their still air fall velocities. This implies that seeding with smaller sizes now
can also induce precipitation. This happens because, although the particles have
modest sizes, in turbulence, they fall faster and produce the same effect as larger
particles. The mechanism proposed in our study and its associated critical
particle size of 20 mm radii shows that if too few droplets of this size are
nucleated, by comparison with the smaller sizes, then the enhanced collision rate
and droplet growth will not occur. In addition, the bimodal ‘tail’ in the size
spectrum probably has applications in other environmental and industrial
processes involving sedimenting, coalescing and flocculating particles in
turbulent flows.
These calculations can also be extended to calculate the settling rates of
atmospheric aerosols and particulate matter. For example, it is now known that
heterogeneous processing on polar stratospheric cloud particles (PSCs; in
particular the larger type 2 PSCs) is crucial to the correct quantification of
stratospheric denitrification and heterogeneous ozone depletion. It is also
expected that the estimated fall velocities of these type 2 PSCs (typically with
radii of ca 10 mm) would be higher than their still air values when one accounts
for the turbulence within the stratospheric vortex. This faster settling would
possibly lead to greater denitrification of the stratosphere, which would
eventually lead to larger heterogeneously processed ozone depletion.
In forthcoming work, the effects of including this mechanism in compu-
tational models for cloud processes will be tested—especially its interaction
between ice crystals, aerosol particles and droplets. To date, current climate
models, including those at the UK Meteorological Office, continue to use still
air fall velocities for cloud droplets. It is expected that by using turbulence-
assisted fall velocities in climate models, one can obtain a better precipitation
characterization and forecast. In addition, recent research suggests that
turbulence effects on droplet condensational growth can also be important (see
Celani et al. 2005 and references therein). The contribution from this latter
effect may also complement the well-established turbulence effects on settling
and coalescence. In general, the implications for improving numerical models
for weather and climate predictions are also being considered. Our future work
will be aimed at formulating the above results in closed-formed parametric
results so that they can be easily incorporated into large-scale climate-
prediction models.

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3084 S. Ghosh and others

We are grateful to the sponsors for their support of this research: E.C. (S.G.); Spanish Ministry of
Science and Technology (J.D.); Isaac Newton Trust (S.G., J.C.R.H.); NSF Environmental
Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry (J.C.R.H., A.S., H.J.S.F.); NERC grant to Centre for Polar
Observation and Modelling (U.C.L., J.C.R.H.). We have greatly benefited from conversations with
T. Choularton, Rob Wood, Yan Yin, J.-L. Brenguier, J. Fung, M.R. Maxey and A.P. Khain. We
are grateful to A. Bott for the SCE solver.

Appendix A. Collision length of small heavy particles settling around

line vortices

A solid particle released at a level YZY0 far above a vortex of circulation G, after
falling a time Dtc[2Y0/VTO will be at
Y Z Y0 K VTO Dtc C ðG=VTO ÞDhðX0 Þ; (A 1)
where Dh(X0) is the dimensionless differential settling length with respect to
settling in still fluid, a function of the initial horizontal position X0 (see Dávila &
Hunt 2001). If DhO0, then the particle settles more slowly. If a small particle
(with terminal velocity V^ TO ) collides at a fixed level Y1 with a larger particle
(with terminal velocity V TO ), then the collision length of particle pairs is

lc Z lco K ½ðG=V TO ÞD

h K ðG=V^ TO ÞD^
h Z lco K ðG=V TO ÞðlD hÞ;
h K D^ (A 2)
where lco Z ðV TO K V
^ TO ÞDtc Z V TO Dtc ð1K lÞ with lZ V^ TO =V TO ð!1Þ. Hence
the normalized fractional increase in collision length is
lc V TO Dtc D^
h K lDh
El Z K1 Z : (A 3)
lco G=V^ TO 1 Kl

This is the formulation used to obtain figure 3c, where we have plotted El versus
the initial horizontal position of the particles X0 for critical small particles with
F^ p Z 4 and V^ TO Z 0:7, and larger particles with F p Z 5 and V TO Z 0:8.
Because the objective of these calculations is the average value of lc over all the
horizontal initial positions, we have not taken into account that the initial
horizontal positions of the larger and smaller particles may be different in order
to have a collision at the fixed level Y1. From (A 3) using the definition of the
drift integral (i.e. the average settling length around the vortex)
DZ DhðX0 Þ ; (A 4)

equation (2.5) can be obtained. In addition, using (A 1), the average settling
velocity of particles moving around vortices results in
VT Z VTO ð1 K aDÞ; (A 5)
where the effective volume fraction occupied by the vortices aZ ððG=VTO Þ=Dlv Þ2 .
For a given value of the droplet radius, we first calculate the fall velocity VTO,
the particle Froude number Fp, the volume fraction a. Then, from (A 4), the drift
integral is evaluated.

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Coalescence of particles in rain clouds 3085

Appendix B. Time evolution of the cloud droplet spectra

The purpose of this appendix is to provide a brief outline of the computational

procedure that was adopted to evaluate the time evolution of the cloud droplet
spectra. In the droplet collection model, all condensation and mixing with the
surroundings were neglected. The droplets were assumed to grow only by
coalescing with each other as they fell. Depending on their sizes, the actual fall
velocities were generally higher than their still air values and this added value
was precisely estimated using the Dávila & Hunt (2001) formalism described in
the paper. For drops with radii less than 30 mm, the still air terminal velocity
VTO was calculated as

VTOi Z kai2 ; (B 1)
where kw1.18!108 mK1 sK1 (Rogers & Yau 1994) and ai is the droplet radius.
Dávila and Hunt’s (2001) calculations depend significantly on the droplet
radius and significant variations are observed in the particle Froude number Fp,
the radius of the droplet trajectory around the vortex Rtraj as well as the Stokes
number St with increasing drop radii. This is shown in table 2 below.
Using the values listed in table 2, we find that the velocity amplification drops
from ca 90% for a drop with 11 mm radius to about ca 18% for a 20 mm radius.
Prediction of growth times for precipitation-sized drops also includes the
stochastic nature of the collection growth. Because raindrop concentrations are
typically 105–106 times smaller than cloud drop concentrations, one would expect
that the fate of the ‘favoured’ small fraction of drops that happen to grow much
faster than the average rate would be quite important in the overall process of
precipitation development (Pruppacher & Klett 1997). Our calculations have
borne out this expectation as is briefly described below.
Let the number of drops with radii between ai and ai C d a be Ni per unit
volume, and let the probability that a drop of size j will encounter a collision with
one of size i in unit time be Pij (with iOj).
From the above prescription, it follows that the number of drops of size i
coalescing with drops of size j in a single time-step Dt, is
DNij Z Pij Ni Nj Dt; (B 2)

per unit time. However, the probability Pij that a drop of size i can collide with
a i ; a^j Þ and their
one of size j in unit time depends on their collection efficiency Eð
relative fall speeds VTi and VTj. This implies that
Pij Z Eð a i C a^j Þ2 ðVTi K VTj Þ:
a i ; a^j Þpð (B 3)
Once the values of Eð a i ; a^j Þ, VTi, VTj were estimated, the appropriate values of Pij
were calculated. For the control runs (i.e. the effect of turbulence neglected
altogether), only the still air terminal velocity of droplets (equation (B 1)) were used
while evaluating Pij . The number of drops lost in a particular class and the size
range that the resulting larger drops covered were also estimated. Finally, the new
values of the droplet concentrations were updated in each size class and the outlined
procedure repeated for every pair of drop sizes. The history of the droplet spectrum
was followed for 20 min. The SCE solver that is used is described in Bott (1998) and

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3086 S. Ghosh and others

Table 2. Size dependence of model parameters

(Fp is the particle Froude number; Rtraj, the radius of the droplet trajectory around the vortex; St,
the Stokes number; a is the drop radius; VTO, the still air fall velocity; and a is the volume

a (mm) VTO (m sK1) Fp Rtraj (m) St a

11 0.14520!10K1 0.20825!10K2 0.10331!10K1 0.22224 0.26680

12 0.17280!10K1 0.35101!10K2 0.86806!10K2 0.26449 0.18838
13 0.20280!10K1 0.56740!10K2 0.73964!10K2 0.31041 0.13677
14 0.23520!10K1 0.88510!10K2 0.63776!10K2 0.36000 0.10168
15 0.27000!10K1 0.13390!10K1 0.55556!10K2 0.41327 0.77160!10K1
16 0.30720!10K1 0.19722!10K1 0.48828!10K2 0.47020 0.59605!10K1
17 0.34680!10K1 0.28374!10K1 0.43253!10K2 0.53082 0.46770!10K1
18 0.38880!10K1 0.39982!10K1 0.38580!10K2 0.59510 0.37211!10K1
19 0.43320!10K1 0.55303!10K1 0.34626!10K2 0.66306 0.29974!10K1
20 0.48000!10K1 0.75233!10K1 0.31250!10K2 0.73469 0.24414!10K1

uses an accurate flux method, which ensures accurate mass conversion. The mass
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second step, a certain fraction of the water mass in grid box k is transported to kC1.
This transport is achieved by means of an advection procedure. Further details of
the flux method can be obtained from Bott (1998).

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