Articles | Volume 15, issue 20
Research article
22 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 22 Oct 2015

High ice water content at low radar reflectivity near deep convection – Part 1: Consistency of in situ and remote-sensing observations with stratiform rain column simulations

A. M. Fridlind, A. S. Ackerman, A. Grandin, F. Dezitter, M. Weber, J. W. Strapp, A. V. Korolev, and C. R. Williams

Abstract. Occurrences of jet engine power loss and damage have been associated with flight through fully glaciated deep convection at −10 to −50 °C. Power loss events commonly occur during flight through radar reflectivity (Ze) less than 20–30 dBZ and no more than moderate turbulence, often overlying moderate to heavy rain near the surface. During 2010–2012, Airbus carried out flight tests seeking to characterize the highest ice water content (IWC) in such low-Ze regions of large, cold-topped storm systems in the vicinity of Cayenne, Darwin, and Santiago. Within the highest IWC regions encountered, at typical sampling elevations (circa 11 km), the measured ice size distributions exhibit a notably narrow concentration of mass over area-equivalent diameters of 100–500 μm. Given substantial and poorly quantified measurement uncertainties, here we evaluate the consistency of the Airbus in situ measurements with ground-based profiling radar observations obtained under quasi-steady, heavy stratiform rain conditions in one of the Airbus-sampled locations. We find that profiler-observed radar reflectivities and mean Doppler velocities at Airbus sampling temperatures are generally consistent with those calculated from in situ size-distribution measurements. We also find that column simulations using the in situ size distributions as an upper boundary condition are generally consistent with observed profiles of Ze, mean Doppler velocity (MDV), and retrieved rain rate. The results of these consistency checks motivate an examination of the microphysical pathways that could be responsible for the observed size-distribution features in Ackerman et al. (2015).

Short summary
Airbus measurements at elevations circa 11 km within large storm systems near Darwin and Santiago indicate ice mass distributed over area-equivalent diameters of 100-500 µm. Profiler-observed radar reflectivity and mean Doppler velocity under similar conditions are found to be consistent with measurements and with 1D simulations of steady-state stratiform rain columns initialized with observed ice size distributions. Results motivate investigation of ice formation pathways in Part II.
Final-revised paper