Single Particle Measurements of the Optical Properties of Small Ice Crystals and Heterogeneous Ice Nuclei Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright 2014 American Association for Aerosol Research. Dust aerosol and ice crystals are two major types of nonspherical particles in the atmosphere which have significant roles in cloud-aerosol interactions and the radiative budget. The presence of dust and ice often coincide in the atmosphere because dust particles are efficient ice nuclei. The size and composition dependence of the scattering properties of dust and ice are needed to assess their individual contributions to the optical scattering of sunlight. Here we present a new measurement technique used to determine the single particle forward scattering, backscattering, and depolarization ratio (at a wavelength of 680 nm) for representative nonspherical atmospheric particles. The Texas A&M University Continuous Flow Diffusion Chamber (CFDC) was used as an ice crystal generator to produce ice crystals via both homogenous and heterogeneous nucleation mechanisms under well-controlled laboratory conditions. Optical scattering properties of mineral dusts and small ice crystals (0.6 m to 50 m optical diameter) were measured by the Droplet Measurement Technologies, Inc. (DMT) Cloud Aerosol Spectrometer with Polarization (CASPOL). Significant differences between the optical properties of single dusts and ice particles of the same size were observed. Differences between the optical signatures of homogeneously and heterogeneously nucleated ice crystals were not statistically significant. Our results suggest that atmospheric ice crystals can be identified and quantified independently from the dust particles on which they form based on analysis of their backscatter and depolarization signals.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Glen, A., & Brooks, S. D.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Glen, Andrew||Brooks, Sarah D

publication date

  • January 2014