A 1D Model for Nucleation of Ice From Aerosol Particles: An Application to a Mixed-Phase Arctic Stratus Cloud Layer

Daniel A. Knopf, Israel Silber, Nicole Riemer, Ann M. Fridlind, Andrew S. Ackerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mixed-phase clouds (MPCs) have been identified as significant contributors to uncertainties in climate projections, attributable to model representation of processes controlling the formation and loss of supercooled water droplets and ice particles from the atmosphere. Arctic MPCs are commonly widespread and long-lived, with sustained ice crystal formation processes that challenge current understanding. This study examines the ice-nucleating particle (INP) reservoir dynamics governing immersion-mode heterogeneous freezing in an observed case of Arctic MPCs using a simplified 1D aerosol-cloud model. The model setup includes prescribed dynamical forcings and thermodynamic profiles, and represents INPs as multicomponent and polydisperse particle size distributions. Diagnostic and prognostic approaches to immersion freezing parameterization are compared, including time-independent (singular) number- and surface area-based descriptions and a time-dependent description following classical nucleation theory (CNT). The choice of freezing parameterization defines the size of the INP reservoir. The CNT-based description yields an orders of magnitude larger INP reservoir than the singular parameterizations, which is the dominant factor for sustained ice crystal formation. The efficiency of the freezing process and cloud cooling are of secondary importance. A diagnostic treatment neglecting INP loss is only accurate when the INP reservoir size is large and INP depletion weak. Since a larger INP reservoir sustains ice crystal formation substantially longer, and ice water path scales with ice crystal concentrations for the conditions considered, resolving the source of differences in INP reservoir dynamics due to model implementation is a high priority for advancing climate model physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023MS003663
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • aerosol
  • ice crystal
  • ice-nucleating particle
  • immersion freezing
  • mixed-phase cloud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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