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The breakup of levitating water drops observed with a high speed camera

by C. Emersic, P. J. Connolly
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()
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Collision-induced water drop breakup in a vertical wind tunnel was observed using a high speed camera for interactions between larger drop sizes (up to 7 mm diameter) than have previously been experimentally observed. Three distinct collisional breakup types were observed and the drop size distributions from each were analysed for comparison with predictions of fragment distributions from larger drops by two sets of established breakup parameterisations. The observations showed some similarities with both parameterisations but also some marked differences for the breakup types that could be compared, particularly for fragments 1 mm and smaller. Modifications to the parameterisations are suggested and examined. Presented is also currently the largest dataset of bag breakup distributions observed. Differences between this and other experimental research studies and modelling parameterisations, and the associated implications for interpreting results are discussed. Additionally, the stochastic coalescence and breakup equation was solved computationally using a breakup parameterisation, and the evolving drop-size distribution for a range of initial conditions was examined. Initial cloud liquid water content was found to have the greatest influence on the resulting distribution, whereas initial drop number was found to have relatively little influence. This may have implications when considering the effect of aerosol on cloud evolution, raindrop formation and resulting drop size distributions. Calculations presented show that, using an ideal initial cloud drop-size distribution, similar to 1-3% of the total fragments are contributed from collisional breakup between drops of 4 and 6 mm.

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