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Variation of ice crystal size, shape, and asymmetry parameter in tops of...

van Diedenhoven, B., A. M. Fridlind, B. Cairns, and A. S. Ackerman (2014), Variation of ice crystal size, shape, and asymmetry parameter in tops of tropical deep convective clouds, J. Geophys. Res., 119, 11,809-11,825, doi:10.1002/2014JD022385.

The variation of ice crystal properties in the tops of deep convective clouds off the north coast of Australia is analyzed. Cloud optical thickness, ice effective radius, aspect ratio of ice crystal components, crystal distortion parameter and asymmetry parameter are simultaneously retrieved from combined measurements of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Polarization and Directionality of the Earth’s Reflectances (POLDER) satellite instruments. The data are divided into periods with alternating weak and strong convection. Mostly plate-like particle components with aspect ratios closer to unity and lower asymmetry parameters characterize strongly convective periods, while weakly convective periods generally show lower aspect ratios, relatively more column-like shapes and somewhat greater asymmetry parameters. Results for strongly convective periods show that, with increasing cloud top temperature, the distortion parameter generally decreases, while the asymmetry parameter and effective radius increase. For one of the strongly convective periods, the rate at which effective radii increase with cloud top temperature is more than double that of the other periods, while the temperature dependence of the other microphysical quantities for this period is substantially weaker. Atmospheric state analysis indicates that these differences are concurrent with differences in middle-to-upper tropospheric zonal wind shear. The observed variation of microphysical properties may have significant effects on the shortwave radiative fluxes and cloud absorption associated with deep convection. Additionally, MODIS collection 5 effective radii are estimated to be biased small with an artificially narrow range. Collection 6 products are expected to have less severe biases that depend on cloud top temperature and atmospheric conditions.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)