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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.

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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.

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