Dimensions and aspect ratios of natural ice crystals

J. Um, G. M. McFarquhar, Y. P. Hong, S. S. Lee, C. H. Jung, R. P. Lawson, Q. Mo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the 2006 Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE) in the tropics, the 2008 Indirect and Semi-Direct Aerosol Campaign (ISDAC) in the Arctic, and the 2010 Small PARTicles In CirrUS (SPARTICUS) campaign at mid-latitudes, high-resolution images of ice crystals were recorded by a Cloud Particle Imager at temperatures (T) between g'87 and 0 °C. The projected maximum dimension (D'), length (L;'), and width (L') of pristine columns, plates, and component bullets of bullet rosettes were measured using newly developed software, the Ice Crystal Ruler. The number of bullets in each bullet rosette was also measured. Column crystals were further distinguished as either horizontally oriented columns or columns with other orientations to eliminate any orientation effect on the measured dimensions. The dimensions and aspect ratios (AR, the dimension of the major axis divided by the dimension of the minor axis) of crystals were determined as functions of temperature, geophysical location, and type of cirrus. Br Dimensions of crystals generally increased with temperature. Columns and bullets had larger dimensions (i.e., W') of the minor axis (i.e., a axis) for a given dimension (i.e., D;' or L') of the major axis (i.e., c axis), and thus smaller AR, as T increased, whereas this trend did not occur for plate crystals. The average number of branches in bullet rosettes was 5.50 ± 1.35 during three campaigns and 6.32 ± 1.34 (5.46 ± 1.34; 4.95 ± 1.01) during TWP-ICE (SPARTICUS; ISDAC). The AR of bullets increased with the number of branches in bullet rosettes. Most dimensions of crystals and ARs of columnar crystals measured during SPARTICUS were larger than those measured during TWP-ICE and ISDAC at −67 T -35 °C and at −40 T −15 °C, respectively. The relative occurrence of varying pristine habits depended strongly on cirrus type (i.e., anvil or non-anvil clouds), with plates especially occurring more frequently in anvils. The L- relationships of columns derived using current data exhibited a strong dependence on temperature; similar relationships determined in previous studies were within the range of the current data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3933-3956
Number of pages24
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 15 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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