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Carl G. Schmitt
,
Martin Schnaiter
,
Andrew J. Heymsfield
,
Ping Yang
,
Edwin Hirst
, and
Aaron Bansemer

Abstract

A reliable understanding of the microphysical properties of ice particles in atmospheric clouds is critical for assessing cloud radiative forcing effects in climate studies. Ice particle microphysical properties such as size, shape, and surface roughness all have substantial effects on the single-scattering characteristics of the particles. A recently developed ice particle probe, the Small Ice Detector-3 (SID-3), measures the two-dimensional near-forward light-scattering patterns of sampled ice particles. These scattering patterns provide a wealth of information for understanding the microphysical and radiative characteristics of ice particles. The SID-3 was operated successfully on 12 aircraft flights during the NASA Midlatitude Airborne Cirrus Properties Experiment (MACPEX) field campaign in April 2011. In this study, SID-3 measurements are used to investigate the frequency of occurrence of a number of ice particle properties observed during MACPEX. Individual scattering patterns (7.5°–23°) are used to infer properties of the observed particles as well as to calculate partial scattering functions (PSFs) for ensembles of particles in the measured size range (~5–100 μm). PSFs are compared to ray-tracing-based phase functions to infer additional properties of the particles. Two quantitative values—halo ratio and steepness ratio—are used to characterize PSFs. The MACPEX dataset suggests that most atmospheric ice particles have rough surfaces or are complex in nature. PSFs calculated for particles that were characterized as having smooth surfaces also appeared to more closely resemble rough crystal PSFs. PSFs measured with SID-3 compare well with those calculated for droxtals with rough surfaces.

Full access
Emma Järvinen
,
Martin Schnaiter
,
Guillaume Mioche
,
Olivier Jourdan
,
Valery N. Shcherbakov
,
Anja Costa
,
Armin Afchine
,
Martina Krämer
,
Fabian Heidelberg
,
Tina Jurkat
,
Christiane Voigt
,
Hans Schlager
,
Leonid Nichman
,
Martin Gallagher
,
Edwin Hirst
,
Carl Schmitt
,
Aaron Bansemer
,
Andy Heymsfield
,
Paul Lawson
,
Ugo Tricoli
,
Klaus Pfeilsticker
,
Paul Vochezer
,
Ottmar Möhler
, and
Thomas Leisner

Abstract

Homogeneous freezing of supercooled droplets occurs in convective systems in low and midlatitudes. This droplet-freezing process leads to the formation of a large amount of small ice particles, so-called frozen droplets, that are transported to the upper parts of anvil outflows, where they can influence the cloud radiative properties. However, the detailed microphysics and, thus, the scattering properties of these small ice particles are highly uncertain. Here, the link between the microphysical and optical properties of frozen droplets is investigated in cloud chamber experiments, where the frozen droplets were formed, grown, and sublimated under controlled conditions. It was found that frozen droplets developed a high degree of small-scale complexity after their initial formation and subsequent growth. During sublimation, the small-scale complexity disappeared, releasing a smooth and near-spherical ice particle. Angular light scattering and depolarization measurements confirmed that these sublimating frozen droplets scattered light similar to spherical particles: that is, they had angular light-scattering properties similar to water droplets. The knowledge gained from this laboratory study was applied to two case studies of aircraft measurements in midlatitude and tropical convective systems. The in situ aircraft measurements confirmed that the microphysics of frozen droplets is dependent on the humidity conditions they are exposed to (growth or sublimation). The existence of optically spherical frozen droplets can be important for the radiative properties of detraining convective outflows.

Full access
Megan M. Varcie
,
Troy J. Zaremba
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Greg M. McFarquhar
,
Joseph A. Finlon
,
Lynn A. McMurdie
,
Alexander Ryzhkov
,
Martin Schnaiter
,
Emma Järvinen
,
Fritz Waitz
,
David J. Delene
,
Michael R. Poellot
,
Matthew L. Walker McLinden
, and
Andrew Janiszeski

Abstract

On 7 February 2020, precipitation within the comma-head region of an extratropical cyclone was sampled remotely and in situ by two research aircraft, providing a vertical cross section of microphysical observations and fine-scale radar measurements. The sampled region was stratified vertically by distinct temperature layers and horizontally into a stratiform region on the west side, and a region of elevated convection on the east side. In the stratiform region, precipitation formed near cloud top as side-plane, polycrystalline, and platelike particles. These habits occurred through cloud depth, implying that the cloud-top region was the primary source of particles. Almost no supercooled water was present. The ice water content within the stratiform region showed an overall increase with depth between the aircraft flight levels, while the total number concentration slightly decreased, consistent with growth by vapor deposition and aggregation. In the convective region, new particle habits were observed within each temperature-defined layer along with detectable amounts of supercooled water, implying that ice particle formation occurred in several layers. Total number concentration decreased from cloud top to the −8°C level, consistent with particle aggregation. At temperatures > −8°C, ice particle concentrations in some regions increased to >100 L−1, suggesting secondary ice production occurred at lower altitudes. WSR-88D reflectivity composites during the sampling period showed a weak, loosely organized banded feature. The band, evident on earlier flight legs, was consistent with enhanced vertical motion associated with frontogenesis, and at least partial melting of ice particles near the surface. A conceptual model of precipitation growth processes within the comma head is presented.

Significance Statement

Snowstorms over the northeast United States have major impacts on travel, power availability, and commerce. The processes by which snow forms in winter storms over this region are complex and their snowfall totals are hard to forecast accurately because of a poor understanding of the microphysical processes within the clouds composing the storms. This paper presents a case study from the NASA IMPACTS field campaign that involved two aircraft sampling the storm simultaneously with radars, and probes that measure the microphysical properties within the storm. The paper examines how variations in stability and frontal structure influence the microphysical evolution of ice particles as they fall from cloud top to the surface within the storm.

Open access