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Collision fluctuations of lucky droplets with superdroplets


It was previously shown that the superdroplet algorithm for modeling the collision-coalescence process can faithfully represent mean droplet growth in turbulent clouds. But an open question is how accurately the superdroplet algorithm accounts for fluctuations in the collisional aggregation process. Such fluctuations are particularly important in dilute suspensions. Even in the absence of turbulence, Poisson fluctuations of collision times in dilute suspensions may result in substantial variations in the growth process, resulting in a broad distribution of growth times to reach a certain droplet size. We quantify the accuracy of the superdroplet algorithm in describing the fluctuating growth history of a larger droplet that settles under the effect of gravity in a quiescent fluid and collides with a dilute suspension of smaller droplets that were initially randomly distributed in space (‘lucky droplet model’). We assess the effect of fluctuations upon the growth history of the lucky droplet and compute the distribution of cumulative collision times. The latter is shown to be sensitive enough to detect the subtle increase of fluctuations associated with collisions between multiple lucky droplets. The superdroplet algorithm incorporates fluctuations in two distinct ways: through the random spatial distribution of superdroplets and through the Monte Carlo collision algorithm involved. Using specifically designed numerical experiments, we show that both on their own give an accurate representation of fluctuations. We conclude that the superdroplet algorithm can faithfully represent fluctuations in the coagulation of droplets driven by gravity. © 2022 American Meteorological Society


Academic article





  • Sweden
  • Royal Institute of Technology
  • Stockholm University
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of Gothenburg
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Termisk energi
  • Luleå University of Technology



Published in

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences








1821 - 1835

View this publication at Cristin