Binod Pokharel, Jon Meyer

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In this study, the interactions between atmospheric water molecules and an electrically charged dust particle were simulated in python to determine the role of electric charge and electric fields in atmospheric ice formation. Multiple levels of electric charge were tested, corresponding to different strengths of atmospheric electric fields. The TIP4P-2005 model for water was used to simulate these molecules under the influence of a central electric potential to represent the charged dust particle. These included a control group with no electric field (0 C), a group under a fair-weather strength of electric field (1.6*10-14 C), a foul-weather electric field (1.6*10-12 C), and a less realistic extreme level of electric field (1.6*10-9 C). For each case, 1000 simulation steps were conducted using the Metropolis Monte Carlo algorithm, and the results were subsequently compared. It was found that larger amounts of electric charge on the dust particle, corresponding to a stronger electric field, led to more stable configurations of particles in closer proximity to the nucleus. Over the course of the simulation, molecules subject to weaker electric fields tended to increase their average nucleus distance while decreasing their average nearest-neighbor distance. These stable, tightly bound configurations are known to have a higher probability of ice nucleation and could be useful in future studies focusing on longer-term ice crystallization behavior or other atmospheric modeling efforts. Given the prevalence of charged dust particles in orographic weather events, the electric charge level of these particles may influence ice crystal formation and orographic precipitation in mountainous regions.

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