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  • Author or Editor: Ian B. McCubbin x
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Sergey Y. Matrosov, Gerald G. Mace, Roger Marchand, Matthew D. Shupe, Anna G. Hallar, and Ian B. McCubbin


Scanning polarimetric W-band radar data were evaluated for the purpose of identifying predominant ice hydrometeor habits. Radar and accompanying cloud microphysical measurements were conducted during the Storm Peak Laboratory Cloud Property Validation Experiment held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, during the winter season of 2010/11. The observed ice hydrometeor habits ranged from pristine and rimed dendrites/stellars to aggregates, irregulars, graupel, columns, plates, and particle mixtures. The slant 45° linear depolarization ratio (SLDR) trends as a function of the radar elevation angle are indicative of the predominant hydrometeor habit/shape. For planar particles, SLDR values increase from values close to the radar polarization cross coupling of about −21.8 dB at zenith viewing to maximum values at slant viewing. These maximum values depend on predominant aspect ratio and bulk density of hydrometeors and also show some sensitivity to particle characteristic size. The highest observed SLDRs were around −8 dB for pristine dendrites. Unlike planar-type hydrometeors, columnar-type particles did not exhibit pronounced depolarization trends as a function of viewing direction. A difference in measured SLDR values between zenith and slant viewing can be used to infer predominant aspect ratios of planar hydrometeors if an assumption about their bulk density is made. For columnar hydrometeors, SLDR offsets from the cross-coupling value are indicative of aspect ratios. Experimental data were analyzed for a number of events with prevalence of planar-type hydrometeors and also for observations when columnar particles were the dominant species. A relatively simple spheroidal model and accompanying T-matrix calculations were able to approximate most radar depolarization changes with viewing angle observed for different hydrometeor types.

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Roger Marchand, Gerald G. Mace, A. Gannet Hallar, Ian B. McCubbin, Sergey Y. Matrosov, and Matthew D. Shupe


Nonspherical atmospheric ice particles can enhance radar backscattering and attenuation above that expected from spheres of the same mass. An analysis of scanning 95-GHz radar data collected during the Storm Peak Laboratory Cloud Property Validation Experiment (StormVEx) shows that at a least a small amount of enhanced backscattering was present in most radar scans, with a median enhancement of 2.4 dB at zenith. This enhancement will cause an error (bias) in ice water content (IWC) retrievals that neglect particle orientation, with a value of 2.4 dB being roughly equivalent to a relative error in IWC of 43%. Of the radar scans examined, 25% had a zenith-enhanced backscattering exceeding 3.5 dB (equivalent to a relative error in IWC in excess of 67%) and 10% of the scans had a zenith-enhanced backscattering exceeding 6.4 dB (equivalent to a relative error in IWC in excess of 150%). Cloud particle images indicate that large enhancement typically occurred when planar crystals (e.g., plates and dendrites) were present, with the largest enhancement occurring when large planar crystals were falling out of a supercooled liquid-water layer. More modest enhancement was sometimes due to planar crystals, but it was also sometimes likely a result of horizontally oriented nonspherical irregularly shaped particles. The analysis also shows there is a strong correlation (about −0.79) between the change in slant 45° depolarization ratio with radar scan elevation angle and the magnitude of the zenith-enhanced backscattering, suggesting that measurements of the slant depolarization ratio can be used to improve radar-based cloud microphysical property retrievals.

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