The Microphysical Properties of Small Ice Particles Measured by the Small Ice Detector-3 Probe during the MACPEX Field Campaign Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2016 American Meteorological Society. A reliable understanding of the microphysical properties of ice particles in atmospheric clouds is critical for assessing cloud radiative forcing effects in climate studies. Ice particle microphysical properties such as size, shape, and surface roughness all have substantial effects on the single-scattering characteristics of the particles. A recently developed ice particle probe, the Small Ice Detector-3 (SID-3), measures the two-dimensional near-forward light-scattering patterns of sampled ice particles. These scattering patterns provide a wealth of information for understanding the microphysical and radiative characteristics of ice particles. The SID-3 was operated successfully on 12 aircraft flights during the NASA Midlatitude Airborne Cirrus Properties Experiment (MACPEX) field campaign in April 2011. In this study, SID-3 measurements are used to investigate the frequency of occurrence of a number of ice particle properties observed during MACPEX. Individual scattering patterns (7.5°-23°) are used to infer properties of the observed particles as well as to calculate partial scattering functions (PSFs) for ensembles of particles in the measured size range (~5-100 μm). PSFs are compared to ray-tracing-based phase functions to infer additional properties of the particles. Two quantitative values-halo ratio and steepness ratio-are used to characterize PSFs. The MACPEX dataset suggests that most atmospheric ice particles have rough surfaces or are complex in nature. PSFs calculated for particles that were characterized as having smooth surfaces also appeared to more closely resemble rough crystal PSFs. PSFs measured with SID-3 compare well with those calculated for droxtals with rough surfaces.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Schmitt, C. G., Schnaiter, M., Heymsfield, A. J., Yang, P., Hirst, E., & Bansemer, A.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • November 2016