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The Effect of Suspended Ice Crystals on Radiative Cooling

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  • 1 Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, College, Alaska
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Abstract

Two periods of very low (below −40C) surface temperature of Fairbanks, Alaska, were studied in detail as part of ice fog investigations during the 1961–1962 winter. The observed cooling rates from teh snow surface up to 3000 m were to large to be satisfactorily explained by advection and/or by radiative heat losses from the air and from the snow surface. The excess is shown to be due to radiation from ice crystals suspended in air.

The ice crystals, formed by overall cooling of the air, act as heat sinks. It is proposed that heat flows from the air to the crystals and is radiated away. This process results in strong temperature gradients in the air immediately adjacent to the crystals. It may also account for the fact that humidity measurements show less than saturation values during occurrences of ice fog, light snowfall or “diamond dust” crystal displays. The air temperature values used in determining humidity pertain to ambient air between the ice crystals, whereas the air in contact with crystals has a lower temperature and is saturated with respect to ice.

Abstract

Two periods of very low (below −40C) surface temperature of Fairbanks, Alaska, were studied in detail as part of ice fog investigations during the 1961–1962 winter. The observed cooling rates from teh snow surface up to 3000 m were to large to be satisfactorily explained by advection and/or by radiative heat losses from the air and from the snow surface. The excess is shown to be due to radiation from ice crystals suspended in air.

The ice crystals, formed by overall cooling of the air, act as heat sinks. It is proposed that heat flows from the air to the crystals and is radiated away. This process results in strong temperature gradients in the air immediately adjacent to the crystals. It may also account for the fact that humidity measurements show less than saturation values during occurrences of ice fog, light snowfall or “diamond dust” crystal displays. The air temperature values used in determining humidity pertain to ambient air between the ice crystals, whereas the air in contact with crystals has a lower temperature and is saturated with respect to ice.

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