Millimeter wave scattering from ice crystals and their aggregates: Comparing cloud model simulations with X- and Ka-band radar measurements

Giovanni Botta, Kultegin Aydin, Johannes Verlinde, Alexander E. Avramov, Andrew S. Ackerman, Ann M. Fridlind, Greg M. McFarquhar, Mengistu Wolde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Arctic clouds are often mixed-phase, such that the radiative properties of the clouds are a strong function of the relative amounts of cloud liquid and ice. Modeling studies have shown that the poorly understood ice phase processes are the regulators of the liquid water fraction. However, evaluating the fidelity of the model ice parameterizations has proven to be a difficult task. This study evaluates results of different ice microphysics representations in a cloud resolving model (CRM) using cloud radar measurements. An algorithm is presented to generate realistic ice crystals and their aggregates from which radar backscattering cross sections may be calculated using a generalized solution for a cluster of spheres. The aggregate is composed of a collection of ice crystals, each of which is constructed from a cluster of tiny ice spheres. Each aggregate satisfies the constraints set by the component crystal type and the mass-dimensional relationship used in the cloud resolving model, but is free to adjust its aspect ratio. This model for calculating radar backscattering is compared to two spherical and two spheroidal (bulk model) representations for ice hydrometeors. It was found that a refined model for representing the ice hydrometeors, both pristine crystals and their aggregates, is required in order to obtain good comparisons between the CRM calculations and the radar measurements. The addition of the radar-CRM comparisons to CRM-in situ measurements comparisons allowed conclusions about the appropriateness of different CRM ice microphysics parameterizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberD00T04
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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