Vertical variation of ice particle size in convective cloud tops

van Diedenhoven, B., A. M. Fridlind, B. Cairns, A. S. Ackerman, and J. Yorks (2016), Vertical variation of ice particle size in convective cloud tops, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, doi:10.1002/2016GL068548.

A novel technique is used to estimate derivatives of ice effective radius with respect to height near convective cloud tops (dre ∕dz) from airborne shortwave reflectance measurements and lidar. Values of dre ∕dz are about −6 μm/km for cloud tops below the homogeneous freezing level, increasing to near 0 μm/km above the estimated level of neutral buoyancy. Retrieved dre ∕dz compares well with previously documented remote sensing and in situ estimates. Effective radii decrease with increasing cloud top height, while cloud top extinction increases. This is consistent with weaker size sorting in high, dense cloud tops above the level of neutral buoyancy where fewer large particles are present and with stronger size sorting in lower cloud tops that are less dense. The results also confirm that cloud top trends of effective radius can generally be used as surrogates for trends with height within convective cloud tops. These results provide valuable observational targets for model evaluation.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)