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Effective Radius of Ice Cloud Particle Populations Derived from Aircraft Probes

Heymsfield, A., C. Schmitt, A. Bansemer, G. Van Zadelhoff, M. J. Mcgill, C. Twohy, and D. Baumgardner (2006), Effective Radius of Ice Cloud Particle Populations Derived from Aircraft Probes, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 23, 361-380.

The effective radius (re) is a crucial variable in representing the radiative properties of cloud layers in general circulation models. This parameter is proportional to the condensed water content (CWC) divided by the extinction (␴). For ice cloud layers, parameterizations for re have been developed from aircraft in situ measurements 1) indirectly, using data obtained from particle spectrometer probes and assumptions or observations about particle shape and mass to get the ice water content (IWC) and area to get ␴, and recently 2) from probes that derive IWC and ␴ more directly, referred to as the direct approach, even though the extinction is not measured directly.

This study compares [IWC/␴] derived from the two methods using datasets acquired from comparable instruments on two aircraft, one sampling clouds at midlevels and the other at upper levels during the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers (CRYSTAL) Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (FACE) field program in Florida in 2002. A penetration by one of the aircraft into a cold midlatitude orographic wave cloud composed of small particles is further evaluated. The ␴ and IWC derived by each method are compared and evaluated in different ways for each aircraft dataset. Direct measurements of ␴ exceed those derived indirectly by a factor of 2–2.5. The IWC probes, relying on ice sublimation, appear to measure accurately except when the IWC is high or the particles too large to sublimate completely during the short transit time through the probe. The IWC estimated from the particle probes are accurate when direct measurements are available to provide constraints and give useful information in high IWC/large particle situations.

Because of the discrepancy in ␴ estimates between the direct and indirect approaches, there is a factor of 2–3 difference in [IWC/␴] between them. Although there are significant uncertainties involved in its use, comparisons with several independent data sources suggest that the indirect method is the more accurate of the two approaches. However, experiments are needed to resolve the source of the discrepancy in ␴.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)