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C. G. Schmitt and A. J. Heymsfield

Abstract

Ice crystal aggregates imaged by aircraft particle imaging probes often appear to be fractal in nature. As such, their dimensional properties, mass, and projected area can be related using fractal geometry. In cloud microphysics, power-law mass (m)– and area (A)–dimensional (D) relationships (e.g., m = aDb) incorporate different manifestations of the fractal dimension as the exponent (b). In this study a self-consistent technique is derived for determining the mass and projected area properties of ice particles from fractal geometry. A computer program was developed to simulate the crystal aggregation process. The fractal dimension of the simulated aggregates was estimated using the box counting method in three dimensions as well as for two-dimensional projected images of the aggregates. The two- and three-dimensional fractal dimension values were found to be simply related. This relationship enabled the development of mass–dimensional relationships analytically from cloud particle images. This technique was applied to data collected during two field projects. The exponent in the mass–dimensional relationship, the fractal dimension, was found to be between 2.0 and 2.3 with a dependence on temperature noted for both datasets. The coefficient a in the mass–dimensional relationships was derived in a self-consistent manner. Temperature-dependent mass–dimensional relationships have been developed. Cloud ice water content estimated using the temperature-dependent relationship and particle size distributions agreed well with directly measured ice water content values. The results are appropriate for characterizing cloud particle properties in clouds with high concentrations of ice crystal aggregates.

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C. G. Schmitt and A. J. Heymsfield

Abstract

Ice crystal terminal velocities govern the lifetime of radiatively complex, climatologically important, low-latitude tropopause cirrus clouds. To better understand cloud lifetimes, the terminal velocities of low-latitude tropopause cirrus cloud particles have been estimated using data from aircraft field campaigns. Data used in this study were collected during the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers–Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (CRYSTAL-FACE) and the Pre-Aura Validation Experiment (Pre-AVE). Particle properties were measured with the NCAR video ice particle sampler (VIPS) probe, thus providing information about particles in a poorly understood size range. Data used in this study were limited to high-altitude nonconvective thin clouds with temperatures between −56° and −86°C.

Realistic particle terminal velocity estimates require accurate values of particle projected area and mass. Exponential functions were used to predict the dimensional properties of ice particles smaller than 200 microns and were found to predict ice water content measurements well when compared to power-law representations. The shapes of the particle size distributions were found to be monomodal and were well represented by exponential or gamma functions. Incorporating these findings into terminal velocity calculations led to lower values of mass-weighted terminal velocities for particle populations than are currently predicted for low-latitude ice clouds. New parameterizations for individual particle properties as well as particle size distribution properties are presented and compared to commonly used parameterizations. Results from this study are appropriate for use in estimating the properties of low-latitude thin and subvisible cirrus at temperatures lower than −56°C.

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C. G. Schmitt and A. J. Heymsfield

Abstract

Cirrus clouds in mid- and high latitudes are frequently composed of bullet rosette– and column-shaped ice crystals, which can have hollow ends. Bullet rosette–shaped ice crystals are composed of a number of bullets radiating from a central point. Research has shown that the light-scattering properties of ice particles with hollow ends are different from the scattering properties of solid ice particles. Knowledge of the frequency of occurrence of hollow particles is important to more accurately calculate the radiative properties of cirrus clouds.

This note presents the results of a survey of cirrus cloud ice crystal replicas imaged from balloon-borne Formvar (polyvinyl formal) replicators. Fifty percent to 80% of the replicated bullet rosette– and column-shaped particles had hollow ends. In bullets longer than 150 μm in length, the length of the hollows of the bullets averaged 88% of the total length of the bullet. The combined length of both hollow portions of column-shaped ice crystals varied from 50% of the length of the column for 30-μm-long columns to 80% of the length of the columns longer than 200 μm. Asymmetry parameter values estimated from cirrus cloud aircraft particle size distributions are higher by 0.014 when hollow crystals are considered. This difference leads to a 2.5 W m−2 increase for hollow crystals at the surface for a 0.5 optical depth cloud, demonstrating the importance of the incorporation of hollow particle scattering characteristics into radiative transfer calculations.

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Vanessa M. Przybylo, Kara J. Sulia, Carl G. Schmitt, Zachary J. Lebo, and William C. May

Abstract

Aggregation, the process by which two or more ice particles attach to each other, is typically observed in clouds that span a range of temperatures and is influenced by the crystal shape (habit). In this study, the resulting characteristics of ice–ice two-monomer aggregation is investigated, which is expected to improve microphysical parameterizations through more precise aggregate characteristics and in turn better predict the rate of aggregation and snow development. A systematic way to determine the aspect ratio of the aggregate was developed, which takes into account the expected falling orientations, overlap of each monomer, and any contact angle that may form through so-called constrained randomization. Distributions were used to obtain the most frequent aspect ratio, major axis, and minor axis of aggregated particles with respect to the monomer aspect ratio. Simulations were completed using the Ice Particle and Aggregate Simulator (IPAS), a model that uses predefined three-dimensional geometries, (e.g., hexagonal prisms) to simulate ice crystal aggregation and allows for variation in crystal size, shape, number, and falling orientation. In this study, after collection in a theoretical grid space, detailed information is extracted from the particles to determine the properties of aggregates. It was found that almost all monomer aspect ratios aggregate to less extreme aggregate aspect ratios at nearly the same rate. Newly formed aggregate properties are amenable to implementation into more sophisticated bulk microphysical models designed to predict and evolve particle properties, which is crucial in realistically evolving cloud ice mass distribution and for representing the collection process.

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