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Effective Ice Particle Densities Derived from Aircraft Data

Heymsfield, A., A. Bansemer, C. Schmitt, C. Twohy, and M. Poellot (2004), Effective Ice Particle Densities Derived from Aircraft Data, J. Atmos. Sci., 61, 982.

In this study, aircraft data are used to derive effective ice particle densities. This density is defined as the ice particle mass divided by the volume of an equivalent diameter sphere. Measured ice particle size distributions and total ice water contents are used to derive effective ice densities for ice particle populations (␳ e ) as a function of particle size [␳ e (D)]. The density values are critical for modeling and remote sensing applications.

The method uses particle size distributions (PSDs) measured by several particle spectrometers to compute the total particle volume per unit volume of air, assuming that the particles are spheres. Simultaneous direct measurements of ice water content from a counterflow virtual impactor (CVI) yield values for the number of grams of ice per unit volume of air, enabling the overall effective ice density for a population to be calculated. The measured PSD together with the CVI measurements are used to derive mass–dimension relationships.

The methods are applied to measurements acquired in two field programs. More than 1200 population densities were derived from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program and more than 5500 for the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers (CRYSTAL) Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (FACE) in southern Florida during July 2002. The population densities are represented in terms of two properties of particle size distributions: the spectral slope and the median mass diameter. The datasets have been divided into populations associated with predominantly synoptically generated ice cloud regions, convectively generated ice cloud regions, regions with moderately to heavily rimed and graupel particles, and those within the melting layer. Average particle density relationships are derived for each regime.

Values of ␳ e are generally higher in synoptically than convectively generated cloud layers, and rimed particles are denser than unrimed ones. Values of ␳ e also decrease systematically downward within the ice clouds except in the melting layer, where they increase downward.

Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Radiation Science Program (RSP)