Shapes and fall orientations of ice particle aggregates

Zhiyuan Jiang, Johannes Verlinde, Eugene E. Clothiaux, Kultegin Aydin, Carl Schmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Testing the often-made assumption that ice particle aggregates (snowflakes) are well represented by oblate spheroids, ellipsoid fits are applied to aggregate images.An algorithm to retrieve both the ellipsoidal parameters and the orientations of the fitted ellipsoids is applied to Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera measurements of ice particle aggregates observed in Alaska. The resulting ellipsoids have shapes closer to prolate spheroids than the oft-assumed oblate spheroids. A robust linear relationship exists between the two characteristic aspect ratios of the ellipsoids. The most probable orientation of the maximum dimension of the retrieved ellipsoids is not in the horizontal plane, and the rotational angles of the maximum dimensions in the horizontal plane are not uniform, but instead display some correlation with the wind direction at the times of the measurements. The retrieval results can be used to improve the representation of aggregates in microphysics and/or electromagnetic radiation scattering models applicable to radar and satellite measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1903-1916
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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