Single-scattering properties of aggregates of plates

Junshik Um, Greg M. McFarquhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the 2006 Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment (TWP-ICE) sponsored by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement programme, the Scaled Composites Proteus aircraft executed spiral profiles and flew horizontal legs through aging anvils, fresh anvils, and cirrus of unknown origin in the vicinity of Darwin, Australia. Pristine ice crystals including both plates and bullet rosettes, their aggregates, and unclassifiable ice crystals were observed by a Cloud Particle Imager. The widths of observed plates ranged between 80 μm and 200 μm. When a fresh dissipating anvil was observed on 2 February, aggregates of plates contributed 46.2% of the total area of measured ice crystals with maximum dimensions greater than 200 μm, while it was only 7.2% and 1.0% for 27 and 29 January, respectively, when aged cirrus was sampled. Because aggregates of plates have been observed to make large contributions to projected ice crystal area near convection during TWP-ICE and other projects, their single-scattering properties that have not been previously examined are investigated here. The dependence of the scattering phase function P11, asymmetry parameter g, and single-scattering albedo ω0 on three parameters (the area ratio AR, normalized projected area An, and a newly defined aggregation index AI which varies between 0 and 1 with ice crystals with more compact shape having lower AI) defining the three-dimensional shapes of aggregates of plates were calculated using a geometric ray-tracing code at wavelengths λ of 0.55, 1.38 and 2.13 μm. The scattering properties depended on the crystal morphology with, for example, the g of an aggregate of plates with a high AI of 0.818 differing by +6.89% (+6.44%; +4.55%) from that with a lower AI of 0.378 at λ of 0.55 μm (1.38 μm; 2.13 μm), but by only +0.29% (+0.25%; -0.03%) from those of the component plates. The ω 0 at absorbing λ increased with AI, 1 - AR, and An. Adding ray distortion to the aggregates caused a decrease in forward scattering and an increase in lateral and backward scattering, decreasing g, an effect that weakened with λ due to absorption. The aggregates of plates with low AI were more influenced by ray distortion compared to those with high AI. The dependence of scattering properties on crystal morphology noted here should be considered when computing bulk scattering properties of ice clouds to determine its importance for climate and remote-sensing studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number639
StatePublished - 2009


  • Asymmetry parameter
  • Cirros
  • Ice crystal
  • Scattering phase function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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