Quasi-spherical ice in convective clouds

Emma Järvinen, Martin Schnaiter, Guillaume Mioche, Olivier Jourdan, Valery N. Shcherbakov, Anja Costa, Armin Afchine, Martina Krämer, Fabian Heidelberg, Tina Jurkat, Christiane Voigt, Hans Schlager, Leonid Nichman, Martin Gallagher, Edwin Hirst, Carl Schmitt, Aaron Bansemer, Andy Heymsfield, Paul Lawson, Ugo TricoliKlaus Pfeilsticker, Paul Vochezer, Ottmar Möhler, Thomas Leisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Homogeneous freezing of supercooled droplets occurs in convective systems in low and midlatitudes. This droplet-freezing process leads to the formation of a large amount of small ice particles, so-called frozen droplets, that are transported to the upper parts of anvil outflows, where they can influence the cloud radiative properties. However, the detailed microphysics and, thus, the scattering properties of these small ice particles are highly uncertain. Here, the link between the microphysical and optical properties of frozen droplets is investigated in cloud chamber experiments, where the frozen droplets were formed, grown, and sublimated under controlled conditions. It was found that frozen droplets developed a high degree of small-scale complexity after their initial formation and subsequent growth. During sublimation, the small-scale complexity disappeared, releasing a smooth and near-spherical ice particle. Angular light scattering and depolarization measurements confirmed that these sublimating frozen droplets scattered light similar to spherical particles: that is, they had angular light-scattering properties similar to water droplets. The knowledge gained from this laboratory study was applied to two case studies of aircraft measurements in midlatitude and tropical convective systems. The in situ aircraft measurements confirmed that the microphysics of frozen droplets is dependent on the humidity conditions they are exposed to (growth or sublimation). The existence of optically spherical frozen droplets can be important for the radiative properties of detraining convective outflows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3885-3910
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2016


  • Cirrus clouds
  • Cloud microphysics
  • Ice crystals
  • Optical properties
  • Sublimation


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