Predicting ice shape evolution in a bulk microphysics model

Anders A. Jensen, Jerry Y. Harrington, Hugh Morrison, Jason A. Milbrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


A novel bulk microphysics scheme that predicts the evolution of ice properties, including aspect ratio (shape), mass, number, size, and density is described, tested, and demonstrated. The scheme is named the Ice-Spheroids Habit Model with Aspect-Ratio Evolution (ISHMAEL). Ice is modeled as spheroids and is nucleated as one of two species depending on nucleation temperature. Microphysical process rates determine how shape and other ice properties evolve. A third aggregate species is also employed, diversifying ice properties in the model. Tests of ice shape evolution during vapor growth and riming are verified against wind tunnel data, revealing that the model captures habit-dependent riming and its effect on fall speed. Lagrangian parcel studies demonstrate that the bulk model captures ice property evolution during riming and melting compared with a bin model. Finally, the capabilities of ISHMAEL are shown in a 2D kinematic framework with a simple updraft. A direct result of predicting ice shape evolution is that various states of ice from unrimed to lightly rimed to densely rimed can be modeled without converting ice mass between predefined ice categories (e.g., snow and graupel). This leads to a different spatial precipitation distribution compared with the traditional method of separating snow and graupel and converting between the two categories, because ice in ISHMAEL sorts in physical space based on the amount of rime, which controls the thickness and therefore fall speed. Predicting these various states of rimed ice leads to a reduction in vapor growth rate and an increase in riming rate in a simple updraft compared with the traditional approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2081-2104
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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