Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Research article
20 Jan 2016
Research article |  | 20 Jan 2016

In situ characterization of mixed phase clouds using the Small Ice Detector and the Particle Phase Discriminator

P. Vochezer, E. Järvinen, R. Wagner, P. Kupiszewski, T. Leisner, and M. Schnaiter

Abstract. Mixed phase clouds (MPCs) represent a great source of uncertainty for both climate predictions and weather forecasts. In particular, there is still a lack of understanding on how ice forms in these clouds. In this work we present a technique to analyze in situ measurements of MPCs performed with the latest instruments from the Small Ice Detector family. These instruments record high-resolution scattering patterns of individual small cloud particles. For the analysis of the scattering patterns we developed an algorithm that can discriminate the phase of the cloud particles. In the case of a droplet, a Mie solution is fitted to the recorded pattern and the size of the corresponding particle is obtained, which allows for a size calibration of the instrument. In the case of an ice particle, its shape is deduced from the scattering pattern.

We apply our data analysis method to measurements from three distinct MPC types. The results from laboratory measurements demonstrate that our technique can discriminate between droplets and ice particles in the same optical size range. This ability was verified by measurements at a mountain top station where we found an alternation of liquid- and ice-dominated cloud regions. The analysis of results from aircraft-based measurements illustrates the ice detection threshold of the technique.

Short summary
To study clouds constituting of liquid droplets as well as ice particles we used the latest versions of the Small Ice Detector which record high resolution scattering patterns of individual small cloud particles. In the case of a droplet its precise size is obtained and for ice particles its shape is deduced from the scattering pattern.We present results from artificial clouds at the AIDA cloud chamber and natural clouds probed at a mountain top station as well as from an aircraft in the arctic.