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Rapid ice aggregation process revealed through triple-wavelength Doppler spectra radar analysis

Barrett, A. I., Westbrook, C. D., Nicol, J. C. and Stein, T. H. M. (2019) Rapid ice aggregation process revealed through triple-wavelength Doppler spectra radar analysis. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions. ISSN 1680-7375

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/acp-2018-836


Rapid aggregation of ice particles has been identified by combining data from three co-located, vertically-pointing radars operating at different frequencies. A new technique has been developed that uses the Doppler spectra from these radars to retrieve the vertical profile of ice particle size distributions. The ice particles grow rapidly from a maximum size of 0.75 mm to 5 mm while falling less than 500 m and in under 10 minutes. This rapid growth is shown to agree well with theoretical estimates of aggregation, with aggregation efficiency close to 1, and is inconsistent with other growth processes, e.g. growth by deposition, riming. The aggregation occurs in the middle of the cloud, and is not present throughout the entire lifetime of the cloud. However, the layer of rapid aggregation is very well defined, at a constant height, where the temperature is −15 °C, and lasts for at least 20 minutes (approximate horizontal distance: 24 km). Immediately above this layer, the radar Doppler spectra is bi-modal, which signals the formation of new small ice particles at that height. We suggest that these newly formed particles, at approximately −15 °C, grow dendritic arms, enabling them to easily interlock and accelerate the aggregation process. The estimated aggregation efficiency in the studied cloud is between 0.7 and 1, consistent with recent laboratory studies for dendrites at this temperature. A newly developed method for retrieving the ice particle size distribution using the Doppler spectra allows these retrievals in a much larger fraction of the cloud than existing DWR methods. Through quantitative comparison of the Doppler spectra from the three radars we are able to estimate the ice particle size distribution at different heights in the cloud. Comparison of these size distributions with those calculated with more basic radar-derived values and more restrictive assumptions agree very well; however, the newly developed method allows size distribution retrieval in a larger fraction of the cloud because it allows us to isolate the signal from the larger (non-Rayleigh scattering) particles in the distribution and allows for deviation from the assumed shape of the distribution.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:83236
Publisher:Copernicus Publications


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