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 2: Evaluation of microphysical pathways in updraft parcel simulations

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

Abstract. The aeronautics industry has established that a threat to aircraft is posed by atmospheric conditions of substantial ice water content (IWC) where equivalent radar reflectivity (Ze) does not exceed 20–30 dBZ and supercooled water is not present; these conditions are encountered almost exclusively in the vicinity of deep convection. Part 1 (Fridlind et al., 2015) of this two-part study presents in situ measurements of such conditions sampled by Airbus in three tropical regions, commonly near 11 km and −43 °C, and concludes that the measured ice particle size distributions are broadly consistent with past literature with profiling radar measurements of Ze and mean Doppler velocity obtained within monsoonal deep convection in one of the regions sampled. In all three regions, the Airbus measurements generally indicate variable IWC that often exceeds 2 g m-3 with relatively uniform mass median area-equivalent diameter (MMDeq) of 200–300 μm. Here we use a parcel model with size-resolved microphysics to investigate microphysical pathways that could lead to such conditions. Our simulations indicate that homogeneous freezing of water drops produces a much smaller ice MMDeq than observed, and occurs only in the absence of hydrometeor gravitational collection for the conditions considered. Development of a mass mode of ice aloft that overlaps with the measurements requires a substantial source of small ice particles at temperatures of about −10 °C or warmer, which subsequently grow from water vapor. One conceivable source in our simulation framework is Hallett–Mossop ice production; another is abundant concentrations of heterogeneous ice freezing nuclei acting together with copious shattering of water drops upon freezing. Regardless of the production mechanism, the dominant mass modal diameter of vapor-grown ice is reduced as the ice-multiplication source strength increases and as competition for water vapor increases. Both mass and modal diameter are reduced by entrainment and by increasing aerosol concentrations. Weaker updrafts lead to greater mass and larger modal diameters of vapor-grown ice, the opposite of expectations regarding lofting of larger ice particles in stronger updrafts. While stronger updrafts do loft more dense ice particles produced primarily by raindrop freezing, we find that weaker updrafts allow the warm rain process to reduce competition for diffusional growth of the less dense ice expected to persist in convective outflow.

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Short summary
An updraft parcel model with size-resolved microphysics is used to investigate microphysical pathways leading to ice water content > 2 g m-3 with mass median area-equivalent diameter of 200-300 micron reported at ~11 km in tropical deep convection. Parcel simulations require substantial source of small crystals at temperatures > ~-10 deg C growing by vapor deposition. Warm rain in weaker updrafts surprisingly leads to greater ice mass owing to reduced competition for available water vapor.
Final-revised paper