Advancements in the estimation of ice particle fall speeds using laboratory and field measurements
Heymsfield, A.J. and Westbrook, C. (2010) Advancements in the estimation of ice particle fall speeds using laboratory and field measurements. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 67 (8). pp. 2469-2482. ISSN 1520-0469
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/2010JAS3379.1
Accurate estimates for the fall speed of natural hydrometeors are vital if their evolution in clouds is to be understood quantitatively. In this study, laboratory measurements of the terminal velocity vt for a variety of ice particle models settling in viscous fluids, along with wind-tunnel and field measurements of ice particles settling in air, have been analyzed and compared to common methods of computing vt from the literature. It is observed that while these methods work well for a number of particle types, they fail for particles with open geometries, specifically those particles for which the area ratio Ar is small (Ar is defined as the area of the particle projected normal to the flow divided by the area of a circumscribing disc). In particular, the fall speeds of stellar and dendritic crystals, needles, open bullet rosettes, and low-density aggregates are all overestimated. These particle types are important in many cloud types: aggregates in particular often dominate snow precipitation at the ground and vertically pointing Doppler radar measurements. Based on the laboratory data, a simple modification to previous computational methods is proposed, based on the area ratio. This new method collapses the available drag data onto an approximately universal curve, and the resulting errors in the computed fall speeds relative to the tank data are less than 25% in all cases. Comparison with the (much more scattered) measurements of ice particles falling in air show strong support for this new method, with the area ratio bias apparently eliminated.