Studies on the Competition Between Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Ice Nucleation in Cirrus Formation

B. Kärcher, P. J. DeMott, E. J. Jensen, J. Y. Harrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cirrus ice crystals are produced heterogeneously on ice-nucleating particles (INPs) and homogeneously in supercooled liquid solution droplets. They grow by uptake of water molecules from the ice-supersaturated vapor. The precursor particles, characterized by disparate ice nucleation abilities and number concentrations, compete for available vapor during ice formation events. We investigate cirrus formation events systematically in different temperature and updraft regimes, and for different INP number concentrations and time-independent nucleation efficiencies. We consider vertical air motion variability due to mesoscale gravity waves and effects of supersaturation-dependent deposition coefficients for water molecules on ice surfaces. We analyze ice crystal properties to better understand the dynamics of competing nucleation processes. We study the reduction of ice crystal numbers produced by homogeneous freezing due to INPs in both, individual simulations assuming constant updraft speeds and in ensemble simulations based on a stochastic representation of vertical wind speed fluctuations. We simulate and interpret probability distributions of total nucleated ice crystal number concentrations, showing signatures of homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation. At typically observed, mean updraft speeds (≈15 cm s−1) competing nucleation should occur frequently, even at rather low INP number concentrations (<10 L−1). INPs increase cirrus occurrence and may alter cirrus microphysical properties without entirely suppressing homogeneous freezing events. We suggest to improve ice growth models, especially for low cirrus temperatures (<220 K) and low ice supersaturation (<0.3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JD035805
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume127
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 16 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science

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