Lecture 12:  Atmospheric moisture
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Lecture 12: Atmospheric moisture (Ch 5). Achieving saturation by mixing parcels of air cooling to the dewpoint the dry adiabatic and saturated adiabatic “lapse rates” and their appearance on the thermodynamic chart condensation at/near ground: dew and frost, haze and fog

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Lecture 12: Atmospheric moisture (Ch 5)

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Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Lecture 12: Atmospheric moisture (Ch 5)

  • Achieving saturation by

    • mixing parcels of air

    • cooling to the dewpoint

  • the dry adiabatic and saturated adiabatic “lapse rates” and their appearance on the thermodynamic chart

  • condensation at/near ground: dew and frost, haze and fog

  • supercooled water


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Given that formation of liquid or ice droplets in the atmosphere entails achieving an RH “near” 100%, how is this achieved?

  • add vapour

  • mix cold air + warm, moist air (see Fig. 5-9 for explanation)

  • lower air temperature


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Specific humidity

Fig. 5-9

T oC

Saturation resulting from mixing of cold and warm,moist parcels

Add 1 kg of A to 1 kg of B.

Result:

2 kg air

23 g water vapour

S.H. = 23/2 (g/kg)


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Given that formation of liquid or ice droplets in the atmosphere entails achieving an RH “near” 100%, how is this achieved?

The “first law of thermodynamics” may be written in two alternative forms:

DH (= heat added) = p da + cvDT (a=1/ r)

= cpDT - Dp / r

where DH is [J kg-1], and cp = 1000 [J kg-1 K-1] is the “specific heat capacity of air at constant pressure”. If p decreases, T decreases even though no heat removed

Zero for adiabatic process

  • add vapour

  • mix cold air + warm, moist air

  • lower air temperature

  • by a

the most common mechanism

  • diabatic process… heat added or removed

  • adiabatic process… no heat added or removed


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate (“DALR”)

Let an unsaturated parcel ascend a distance Dz > 0 without addition or removal of heat (and without saturating)

By the hydrostatic law, its pressure changes by the amount

Dp = - r g Dz < 0

Fig. 5-15b

DH (= heat added) = 0 = cpDT - Dp / r

Eliminating Dp, we have the DALR:

DT / Dz = - g / cp = - 0.01 K m-1

“As the air rises, it encounters lower surrounding pressures, expands, and cools” (p144)

adlaprate.ppt

JD Wilson, U. Alberta

Oct, 2003


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Lifting Condensation Level

thermal

If a parcel rises high enough, expansion lowers its temperature to the dew or frost point (p144)

Parcel saturated

Parcel unsaturated


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate (“SALR”)

During the adiabatic ascent of a saturated parcel, the release of latent heat by condensing water vapour offsets the cooling by expansion…

The rate of cooling per metre of lifting is consequently smaller (except high in the atmosphere where due to the cold temperature there is little vapour in the air to be condensed)

adlaprate.ppt

JD Wilson, U. Alberta

Oct, 2003


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Which of the humidity variables is unchanged during adiabatic vertical motion of an unsaturated parcel?

RH, Td , e , rv , q

Family of dry adiabats

T(z)…

(slope is the ELR)

DALR

Family of saturated (or “moist” or “wet”) adiabats

SALR


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

“Condensation or deposition can occur in the air as cloud or fog, or onto the surface as dew or frost” (p156)

Adiabatic cooling is normally the agency that produces condensation well aloft, ie. clouds

What about the types of condensate we see at/near ground, viz., dew, frost, fog…?

In these latter cases, cooling to the dew (or frost) point usually entails some heat removal, ie. “diabatic processes” (e.g. Table 5-4)


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

(Photo: Susan H. McGillivray)

DEWandFROST

  • nocturnal radiative ground cooling , Q* < 0

  • cold ground cools the air above, QH < 0

  • temperature of ground surface cools to surface air’s dewpoint (Tsfc=Td ), vapour condenses onto leaves etc. and/or water droplets form in the chilled air and deposit onto surface... dew (which may later cool to become frozen dew)

  • if Tsfc=Td < 0oC, ie. below “frostpoint”, delicate white crystals (hoarfrost) or just “frost”

  • if air temp. T(z) falls to dewpoint Td(z) in a deeper layer as opposed to right at surface, haze or fog will form


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

HAZE& FOG

HAZElayer of light-scattering droplets formed by condensation onto condensation nuclei (may occur at RH<100%)

FOG cloud, resting on/near ground, of bigger, possibly visible droplets or crystals (visibility < 1 km)

** more precisely: ground cools radiatively, and air cools by contact (convection, QH< 0) and radiation

  • FOG Formation (process/mechanism)

  • cooling

    “radiation fog” due to radiational cooling** (diabatic process)

    “advection fog,” eg. warm moist air advected over a cold surface

    “upslope fog” (adiabatic expansion -> cooling)

  • vapour addition (evaporation-mixing fog)

    eg. “steam fog,” cold air moving over warm water


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

z

z

T

The possible complexity of a fog’s formation – here a “steam fog” observed at dawn after a clear night over Pidgeon Lake, Sept./96

gentle breeze off the land

(see p133-134)

Nocturnal radiation inversion

… and mixes with warm, moist air

Cool, nearly saturated air drifts out over the warm lake…

Pidgeon Lake, due to its high heat capacity, is warmer on this autumn morning than the surrounding land that cooled rapidly overnight

  • land radiatively cooled

  • air above cooled by convection

  • then advects over lake

  • and is moistened by evaporation (“mixing of cold air with warm moist air”)

  • reaches the dewpoint within this shallow layer indicated


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Supercooled water droplets

“If saturation occurs** at temperatures between about -4 C and 0 C, surplus water invariably condenses as supercooled water…” (p137)

… formation of ice crystals near 0oC requires ice nuclei

… which must have an ice-like crystal structure

… and so (unlike condensation nuclei) are generally rare in the atmosphere

… clay particles may serve as natural ice nuclei, but “no materials are effective ice nuclei at temperatures above – 4oC”

… as temperature decreases, likelihood of ice formation increases

(** i.e. T=Tf , the “frost point” )


Lecture 12 atmospheric moisture ch 5

Temperature

+10 0 -10 -20 -30 -40

largest drops frozen

all drops frozen

“ice embryos” mostly destroyed by thermal agitation of the crystal lattice, except at very low temperature

Supercooled water droplets

The smaller the amount of pure water, the lower the temperatures at which water freezes. Newly-formed droplets are extremely small...


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