Comparing Properties of Cirrus Clouds in the Tropics and Mid-latitudes

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1 Comparing Properties of Cirrus Clouds in the Tropics and Mid-latitudes Segayle C. Walford Academic Affiliation, fall 2001: Senior, The Pennsylvania State University SOARS summer 2001 Science Research Mentor: Scientific Writing Mentor: Community Mentor: Peer Mentor: Greg McFarquhar Mike Smith Delaine Orendorf Sarah Tessendorf ABSTRACT Cirrus clouds play an important role in the radiation budget of the atmosphere by reflecting shortwave solar radiation and absorbing longwave terrestrial radiation. There is large variability in the microphysical properties (size, shape, and density) of ice particles within cirrus clouds, which may be associated with the regions (tropics or mid-latitudes) where they develop. This variation makes it hard to generalize these clouds and incorporate these properties in global climate models. Mass-weighted terminal velocity distributions of the ice crystals in cirrus clouds from the tropics and mid-latitudes were calculated and compared. The maximum dimensions and the area ratios of ice crystals in the mid-latitudes were measured from the Southern Great Plains region of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program. Using this information a classification scheme was developed with three habits (shapes): column, aggregate, and bullet rosette. A fall velocity for each size and shape of ice crystal was calculated. Based on a temperature of -40ºC and a pressure of 300 hpa, a mass weighted terminal velocity was derived. This method was repeated for the tropics using similar data from the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment. A comparison of mass-weighted terminal velocity was conducted for the two different regions. In addition, best-fit and temperature dependent curves of terminal velocities versus ice mass content, suitable for cloud models, were derived. The mass-weighted terminal velocity increased with ice mass content for both regimes. In addition, the warmer ice crystal temperatures corresponded to higher mass-weighted terminal velocities. This work was done under the auspices of the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science program of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, with funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. SOARS is a registered trademark of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. 1

2 1. INTRODUCTION Clouds play an important role in the radiation budget of the atmosphere by reflecting shortwave solar radiation and absorbing longwave terrestrial radiation. Cirrus clouds, which are wispy thin clouds, cover about 16 % of the earth (Patterson, 2001) and 20% of the sky in the tropics (Liou, 1986). These clouds are normally found above 6 km and occur more frequently over land areas (47%) than do stratus and cumulus clouds (Hobbs, 1993). Due to their high altitude, cirrus clouds consist predominately of ice crystals and the temperature of the ice particles in these clouds is much lower than those in lower clouds. Since cirrus clouds are so abundant and high in altitude, they have a significant influence on the global climate. Cirrus clouds, on average have a net warming affect on the atmosphere in part because they transmit shortwave radiation from the sun to the surface of the earth, but also because they tend to absorb and trap outgoing longwave radiation. As a result, energy that is transmitted into space is less than it would be if the cloud were not there (NASA facts, 1999). Large variability in the microphysical properties (particle size, shape, and density) of cirrus clouds may be associated with the regions in which they form (tropics or mid-latitudes). Previous studies have investigated some ice particles within cirrus clouds in hopes of establishing a better understanding of the effect of these clouds on the radiation budget. Early mid-latitude in situ measurements of cloud microphysical properties by Weickmann (1947) revealed that the primary crystalline form in cirrus clouds was bullet rosettes--hollow crystals or three-dimensional clusters of prismatic crystals joined at common centers. However, other mid-latitude in situ studies, such as Heymsfield and Platt (1984), have found columns and plates more common in the mid-latitudes. Tropical measurements of the habit, or shape, revealed that bullet rosette ice crystals are not nearly as abundant. Crystal number densities range from 10-4 to 10 4 liter -1, with crystal sizes stretching from 1 m to 8x10 3 m (Heymsfield and McFarquhar, in press). This variation in the microphysical properties makes it hard to generalize these clouds and incorporate these properties in global climate models (GCMs). The terminal, or sedimentation velocity is one of the important properties of the cirrus ice crystals because it determines the decomposition (decay) and build-up (growth) of ice mass and cloud lifetime (Heymsfield and Iaquinta, 2000). When ice crystals fall from a cloud, the cloud is more likely to dissipate, and therefore the cloud would not be present to absorb or reflect the radiation. Averaged for climatology, this effect could possibly cause changes in the global radiation budget. A study by Jakob (1998), which investigated the correlation between ice crystal terminal velocities and global radiation flux divergence, found that small changes in fall speed led to significant changes in global radiation flux (Heymsfield and Iaquinta, 2000). Heymsfield and Iaquinta (2000) have also studied the terminal velocities of cirrus clouds and found that velocities of bullet rosettes derived from Mitchell (1996) compare favorably with measured velocities. It is believed that the effects of these cirrus clouds on radiation vary in the tropics and mid-latitudes, in part because of the variation of the terminal velocities of the ice crystals in these regions. Individual terminal velocities can not be incorporated into global climate models because it is hard to treat such a large number of individual terminal velocities of ice particles given our current technological computational ability. Therefore, mass-weighted terminal velocities are used instead of the terminal velocities of individual ice particles. The goal of this paper is to compare the mass-weighted terminal velocities of cirrus ice crystals in the tropics and mid-latitudes in order to SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 2

3 establish a preliminary theory of how the it affect the radiation budget. In future studies, these mass-weighted terminal velocities may be incorporated into the GCM to obtain a better understanding of how climate is dependent on mass-weighted terminal velocities of cirrus ice particles. The next section of this paper will include a brief description of the data sets that were used to conduct this research. It will also include all the instruments that were used in the study. Section three explains, in detail how the research was conducted and what steps were used to compare the two regions. Section four includes the results that were found, and a discussion of these results is included in section five. 2. DATA SOURCES Two different data sets were used for this study: the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment (CEPEX) for the tropics and the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program for the mid-latitudes. Both missions conducted flights through clouds to obtain microphysical properties of the ice particles located in those clouds. One objective of these projects was to investigate these microphysical properties in clouds in order to get a better understanding of the role of clouds in the atmospheric radiation budget. The CEPEX project was located in the center of the Pacific Ocean between ~ 180 to 180 and 5 to 15 S (Figure 1). The field study portion of this experiment started in 1993 and lasted only one month; however, a large number of measurements were taken during this short period and the data that were collected are still being studied. Figure 1: Location of the CEPEX and ARM projects. CEPEX is located in the center of the Pacific Ocean and ARM is located in Ponca City, Oklahoma. CEPEX consisted of four main instruments that measure microphysical properties of ice crystals in cirrus clouds, at different sizes ranging from 2 m to 3000 m (3 mm) (Table 1). The Particle Measuring System (PMS) had two imaging probes: the two-dimensional cloud probe (2DC) that measured ice particles from 50 m to 1000 m (1 mm) and the two-dimensional precipitation probe (2DP) which measured particles from 200 m to 3000 m (3 mm). The Video SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 3

4 Ice Particle Sampler (VIPS, 5 m to 150 m) and the Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe (FSSP 300, 2 m to 50 m) are two other instruments that were available on the CEPEX project. They both measure small particles; however, the FSSP 300 is not very efficient on ice crystals, so no data from this probe were used for this project. CEPEX - PMS 2DC -PMS 2DP -VIPS -FSSP 300 ARM -PMS 2DC -PMS 2DP Measuring Range 50- >1000 m m m ~ 2-50 m 50- >1000 m m -FSSP 300 ~2 50 m Table 1: Summary of the instruments on the CEPEX and ARM experiments used for this project. The ARM project was relatively large and hosted three sites: North Slope Atlantic region (NSA), Southern Great Plains regions (SGP), Tropical West Pacific Region (TWP) (Figure 2). Figure 2: The three regions in the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Project. For this research, data from the Southern Great Plains was studied. The aircraft that were used for this project were based from the SGP site in Ponca City, Oklahoma and measurements from these aircraft were taken in the surrounding regions. These measurements from the Intensive Observation Period (IOP) were used to obtain cirrus cloud properties from the mid-latitudes by conducting airplane flights through different clouds. The instruments from these IOP fights that were used are similar to the two Particle Measuring System SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 4

5 instruments for the CEPEX data. A two-dimensional cloud probe and a two-dimensional precipitation probe collected the ice particle maximum dimension and area ratio along with other properties of cirrus clouds. The Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe (FSSP 300) was also available for the mid-latitudes; however, it was not used in this study for the same reasons stated above. These probes, along with other instruments, were mounted on aircraft that conducted a number of flights through cirrus and other clouds to obtain these microphysical measurements. 3. METHODOLOGY In the ARM project, the maximum dimension and the area ratio of ice crystals were established. An ice particle general habit classification scheme, which defines the shape of the crystal according to maximum dimension and area ratio, was applied (Figure 3). The origin of the habit scheme comes from Mcfarquar and Heymsfield (1996); however, it was generalized to only include three habits: column, aggregates, and bullet rosette. With these three habits, a fall velocity for each ice crystal was calculated using three different equations for the three different habits. For bullet rosettes and columns the terminal velocity was given by: Vt = x*d y (1) Vt1 = x*d y (2) respectively, where D is the diameter of the ice crystals (cm), Vt and Vt1 (cm s -1 ) are the terminal velocity of each ice particle of that habit (bullet rosettes or column), and x and y are dimensionless parameters which depend on the size of the ice particle. These parameters originate from Mitchell (1996). The masses for bullet rosettes, columns, and aggregates were given by: Mg = *D (3) Mg1 = *D (4) Mg2 = *D (5) respectively, where and, just like x and y, are parameters that depend on the size of the crystal, and Mg(1,2) are the mass of each ice crystal of that habit (bullet rosettes, columns, or aggregates). For the aggregates the Best number, X, was parameterized using the same method as Mitchell X (2 g 2 a D ) 2 (6) (1996). The terminal velocities for the aggregates were calculated depending on the value of the Best number (Table 2) using: b Vt2 a 2 g D b( 2 ) 1 a 2 (7) SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 5

6 Parameters for Terminal Velocities Best values a b Other parameters 0.01<X< = , = < X < = , = < X< 1.56x g= 977.8, a= 4.397e x 10 5 < X < =1.4752e-4, =3.3553e-1 Table 2: Parameters for the Best value dependent on the Best values. All calculations were based on a temperature of 40º C and a pressure of 300 hpa. Next the mass weighted terminal velocities and the ice mass contents were calculated using 10 second averaged ice crystal distributions. The mass weighted terminal velocity was not dependent on the habit of the ice crystals; therefore, there was only one calculation for the mass-weighted terminal velocity and the ice mass content for each ice crystal distribution. The ice mass content was given by: IMC (Mg * n Mg1* n1 Mg2 * n2) (8) where IMC is the ice mass content, Mg, Mg1, Mg2 are the masses of the bullet rosettes, columns, and aggregates respectively, n, n1, and n2 are the number concentration of ice particles for the bullet rosettes, columns, and aggregates respectively. The mass weighted terminal velocity was calculated using: (Vt * Mg * n Vt1* Mg1* n1 Vt2 * Mg2 * n2) MWTV (9) IMC This method was repeated using the data from the CEPEX project and compared at tropics and mid-latitude regions. Best fit lines were constructed in order to establish the relationship between the terminal velocities of cirrus ice crystals in the tropics and mid-latitudes. A 3 rd degree polynomial best fit line was applied to the tropical CEPEX data, while a linear best fit line worked best for the mid-latitude data. SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 6

7 Classification Scheme Figure 3: General habit classification of ice crystal by area ratio and maximum dimension. Artifacts are not being studied in this project. 4. RESULTS Figures 4-7 display graphs of the ice mass content as a function of mass-weighted terminal velocity for the tropics and mid-latitudes. Each individual dot on the graphs represents a 10-second averaged distribution of the ice crystal. Figures 4 and 6 display a best fit line to the ice crystal distributions, while Figures 5 and 7 display multiple temperature dependent fits with temperatures ranging from 20º C to 60º C. Two different best fits were used: a 3 rd degree polynomial for the tropics and linear for the mid-latitudes. In the tropics (Figure 4), the ice mass content varied over a large range: from 10-5 to 10 0 g cm -3. The mass-weighted terminal velocity also had a wide range in this region with some ice crystal distributions reaching about 150 cm s -1. As the ice mass content increased there was a tendency for the mass-weighted terminal velocity to increase. The polynomial temperature fits showed that in the tropics for warmer temperatures, the mass-weighted terminal velocity had a tendency to be higher (Figure 5). The ice crystal distributions in the mid-latitudes, compared to the tropics, were more confined to a smaller area (Figure 6). In addition, the mass-weighted terminal velocity did not reach as high in the mid-latitudes as it did in the tropics. The maximum for the mass-weighted SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 7

8 terminal velocity in this regime was only about 100 cm s -1, whereas in the tropics there were a couple of distributions that reached up to 200 cm s -1. The linear temperature dependent fits for this region showed the similar trends as in the tropics: with higher temperatures there was a tendency for the mass-weighted terminal velocities to be higher (Figure 7). There was one exception to this in the mid-latitudes with the lowest temperatures (less than 60º C). The coldest best fit line cut almost straight across the graph. 5. DISCUSSIONS AND SUMMARY The mass-weighted terminal velocity of ice crystals can help to indicate many characteristics about clouds including their lifetime. For cirrus clouds, since they have a net warming effect on the atmosphere this information is very important in the understanding the role of clouds on the radiation budget and global warming. If the mass-weighted terminal velocity is relatively high, that may indicate that the ice particles will fall out faster, therefore, the lifetime of the cloud will tend to be shorter and the cloud will dissipate more rapidly. Other studies would need to be conducted in order to conclude that this theory is accurate. More microphysical properties such as the densities of ice crystals in cirrus clouds need to be investigated in order to draw a concise conclusion about this theory. In the tropics, the mass-weighted terminal velocities of ice crystal distributions were relatively high compared to the mass-weighted terminal velocities in the mid-latitudes for the data set that was studied. Therefore, it can be said that the cirrus clouds in the tropics would dissipate faster than the cirrus clouds in the mid-latitudes. Over time, this faster dissipation rate could have a very significant effect on the global radiation budget. One possible reason for the variation in the mass-weighted terminal velocity in the tropics and mid-latitudes may be due to the growth of these cirrus clouds. In the tropics cirrus cloud usually develop from convective systems, whereas in the mid-latitudes synoptic systems are the prominent source of cirrus clouds. SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 8

9 Figure 4: Ice mass content (g cm -3 ) versus mass-weighted terminal velocity (cm s -1 ) for the midlatitudes using ARM data. Each dot represents a 10-second averaged ice crystal distribution. A linear best fit line was applied. Figure 5: Ice mass content (g cm -3 ) versus mass-weighted terminal velocity (cm s -1 ) for the midlatitudes using ARM data. Each dot represents a 10-second averaged ice crystal distribution. Linear temperature dependent fits were applied. The temperature is in degrees Celsius. SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 9

10 Figure 6: Ice mass content (g cm -3 ) versus mass-weighted terminal velocity (cm s -1 ) for the tropics using CEPEX data. Each dot represents a 10-second averaged ice crystal distribution. A 3 rd degree polynomial fit was applied. Figure 7: Ice mass content (g cm -3 ) versus mass-weighted terminal velocity (cm s -1 ) for the tropics using CEPEX data. Each dot represents a 10 second averaged ice crystal distribution. 3 rd degree polynomial temperature dependent fits were applied. The temperature is in degrees Celsius. SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 10

11 REFERENCES Heymsfield, A.J., and Iaquinta, J., 2000: Cirrus crystal terminal velocities. J. Atmos. Sci., 57, Heymsfield, A.J., and Mcfarquhar, G.M., in press: Mid-latitude and tropical cirrus microphysical properties. Submitted to CIRRUS book, Oxford University Press Heymsfield, A.J., and C.M.R. Platt, 1984: A parameterization of the particle size spectrum of ice clouds in terms of ambient temperature and ice water content. J. Atmos. Sci., 41, Hobbs, P.V., 1993: Aerosols-cloud-climate interactions. San Diego: Academic Press. Liou, K.N., 1986: Influence of cirrus clouds on weather and climate processes: A global perspective., Mon. Weather Rev., 114, McFarquhar, G.M., and A. J. Heymsfield, 1996: Microphysical characteristics of three anvils sampled during the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment. J. Atmos. Sci., 53, Mitchell, D. L. 1996: Use if mass-and area-dimensional power laws for determining precipitation particle terminal velocities.. J. Atmos. Sci., 53, National Aeronautics and Space Administration facts, 1996: Global Warming, Goddard Space Flight Center. National Aeronautics and Space Administration facts, 1999: Clouds and the energy cycle. Goddard Space Flight Center. National Aeronautics and Space Administration facts, 1999: Earth s energy budget. Goddard Space Flight Center Paterson, C.A., 2001: The role of cloud type and cover in global warming. Wieckmann, H., 1947: Die Eisphase in der Atmosphare. Royal Aircraft Establishment. 96 pp. SOARS 2001, Segayle C. Walford 11

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