Cloud chamber experiments on the origin of ice crystal complexity in cirrus clouds

Martin Schnaiter, Emma Järvinen, Paul Vochezer, Ahmed Abdelmonem, Robert Wagner, Olivier Jourdan, Guillaume Mioche, Valery N. Shcherbakov, Carl G. Schmitt, Ugo Tricoli, Zbigniew Ulanowski, Andrew J. Heymsfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


This study reports on the origin of ice crystal complexity and its influence on the angular light scattering properties of cirrus clouds. Cloud simulation experiments were conducted at the AIDA (Aerosol Interactions and Dynamics in the Atmosphere) cloud chamber of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). A new experimental procedure was applied to grow and sublimate ice particles at defined super- and subsaturated ice conditions and for temperatures in the −40 to −60 °C range. The experiments were performed for ice clouds generated via homogeneous and heterogeneous initial nucleation. Ice crystal complexity was deduced from measurements of spatially resolved single particle light scattering patterns by the latest version of the Small Ice Detector (SID-3). It was found that a high ice crystal complexity is dominating the microphysics of the simulated clouds and the degree of this complexity is dependent on the available water vapour during the crystal growth. Indications were found that the crystal complexity is influenced by unfrozen H2SO4/H2O residuals in the case of homogeneous initial ice nucleation. Angular light scattering functions of the simulated ice clouds were measured by the two currently available airborne polar nephelometers; the Polar Nephelometer (PN) probe of LaMP and the Particle Habit Imaging and Polar Scattering (PHIPS-HALO) probe of KIT. The measured scattering functions are featureless and flat in the side- and backward scattering directions resulting in low asymmetry parameters g around 0.78. It was found that these functions have a rather low sensitivity to the crystal complexity for ice clouds that were grown under typical atmospheric conditions. These results have implications for the microphysical properties of cirrus clouds and for the radiative transfer through these clouds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5091-5110
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Cloud chamber experiments on the origin of ice crystal complexity in cirrus clouds'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this