Experimental study on the evolution of droplet size distribution during the fog life cycle

Mazoyer, Marie ; Burnet, Frédéric ; Denjean, Cyrielle

Année de publication
<p align=justify>The evolution of the droplet size distribution (DSD) during the fog life cycle remains poorly understood and progress is required to reduce the uncertainty of fog forecasts. To gain insights into the physical processes driving the microphysical properties, intensive field campaigns were conducted during the winters of 2010-2013 at the Instrumented Site for Atmospheric Remote Sensing Research (SIRTA) in a semi-urban environment southwest of Paris city center to monitor the simultaneous variations in droplet microphysical properties and their potential interactions at the different evolutionary stages of the fog events. Liquid water content (LWC), fog droplet number concentration (Nd) and effective diameter (Deff) show large variations among the 42 fog events observed during the campaign and for individual events. Our findings indicate that the variability of these parameters results from the interaction between microphysical, dynamical and radiative processes. During the formation and development phases, activation of aerosols into fog droplets and condensational growth were the dominant processes. When vertical development of radiation fog occurred under the influence of increasing wind speed and subsequent turbulent motion, additional condensational growth of fog droplets was observed. The DSDs with single mode (around 11 µm) and double mode (around 11 and 22 µm) were observed during the field campaign. During the development phase of fog with two droplet size modes, a mass transfer occurred from the smaller droplets into the larger ones through collision-coalescence or Ostwald ripening processes. During the mature phase, evaporation due to surface warming induced by infrared radiation emitted by fog was the dominant process. Additional droplet removal through sedimentation is observed during this phase for fog with two droplet size modes. Because of differences in the physical processes involved, the relationship between LWC and Nd is largely driven by the DSD. Although a positive relationship is found in most of the events due to continuous activation of aerosol into fog droplets, LWC varies at a constant Nd in fog with large Deff (>17 µm) due to additional collision-coalescence and Ostwald ripening processes. This work illustrates the need to accurately estimate the supersaturation for simulating the continuous activation of aerosols into droplets during the fog life cycle and to include advanced parameterizations of relevant microphysical processes such as collision-coalescence and Ostwald ripening processes, among others, in numerical models.</p>
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