Radar Observations of Ice Spheres in Free Fall

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  • 1 Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories
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Abstract

Simultaneous measurements of the radar cross section and fallspeed of 5 cm (and larger) ice spheres falling in free air have been obtained using a high-precision tracking radar operating at a wavelength of 5.47 cm. While they were dry, the spheres fell with supercritical Reynolds numbers and drag coefficients of only 0.24 to 0.30. These coefficients are much smaller than those normally attributed to hailstones under any conditions. The surface of one sphere, 5.1 cm in diameter, became wet during its fall. This was accompanied by a 5 db decrease in its normalized radar cross section and a twofold increase in its drag coefficient. The implications of these observations are discussed.

Abstract

Simultaneous measurements of the radar cross section and fallspeed of 5 cm (and larger) ice spheres falling in free air have been obtained using a high-precision tracking radar operating at a wavelength of 5.47 cm. While they were dry, the spheres fell with supercritical Reynolds numbers and drag coefficients of only 0.24 to 0.30. These coefficients are much smaller than those normally attributed to hailstones under any conditions. The surface of one sphere, 5.1 cm in diameter, became wet during its fall. This was accompanied by a 5 db decrease in its normalized radar cross section and a twofold increase in its drag coefficient. The implications of these observations are discussed.

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