Ice Crystal Classification Using Two Dimensional Light Scattering Patterns

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


An investigation is presented into methods of characterising cirrus ice crystals from in-situ light scattering data. A database of scattering patterns from modelled crystals was created using the Ray Tracing with Diffraction on Facets (RTDF) model from the University of Hertfordshire, to which experimental and modelled data was fitted. Experimental data was gathered in the form of scattering patterns from ice analogue crystals with similar optical properties and hexagonal symmetry to ice, yet stable at room temperature. A laboratory rig is described which images scattering patterns from single particles while allowing precise control over the orientation of the particle with respect to the incident beam. Images of scattering patterns were captured and compared to patterns from modelled crystals with similar geometry. Methods for introducing particles en-masse and individually to the Small Ice Detector (SID) instruments are discussed, with particular emphasis on the calibration of the gain of the SID-2 instrument. The variation in gain between detector elements is found to be significant, variable over the life of the detector, and different for different detectors. Fitting was performed by comparison of test scattering patterns (either modelled or experimental) to the reference database. Representation of the two dimensional scattering patterns by asymmetry factor, moment invariants, azimuthal intensity patterns (AIP) and the Fourier transform of the AIP are compared for fitting accuracy. Direct comparison of the AIP is found to be the most accurate method. Increased resolution of the AIP is shown to improve the fitting substantially. Case studies are presented for the fitting of two ice analogue crystals to the modelled database. Fitting accuracy is found to be negatively influenced by small amounts of surface roughness and detail not currently considered by the RTDF model. Fitting of in-situ data gathered by the SID-3 instrument during the HALO 02 campaign at the AIDA cloud chamber in Germany is presented and discussed. Saturation of detector pixels is shown to affect pattern fitting. In-flight operation of the instrument involves the variation of gain of the whole detector (as opposed to individual elements) in order to obtain unsaturated images of both large and small particles.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • Ulanowski, Zbigniew, Supervisor
  • Hesse, Evelyn, Supervisor
  • Hirst, Edwin, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Ray tracing with diffraction on facets
  • Cirrus
  • Ice Crystal
  • Classification
  • Two dimensional light scattering


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