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Journal Articles Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Year : 2022

Secondary ice production processes in wintertime alpine mixed-phase clouds

Paraskevi Georgakaki
Georgia Sotiropoulou
Anne-Claire Billault-Roux
Alexis Berne
Athanasios Nenes
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Abstract. Observations of orographic mixed-phase clouds (MPCs) have long shown that measured ice crystal number concentrations (ICNCs) can exceed the concentration of ice nucleating particles by orders of magnitude. Additionally, model simulations of alpine clouds are frequently found to underestimate the amount of ice compared with observations. Surface-based blowing snow, hoar frost, and secondary ice production processes have been suggested as potential causes, but their relative importance and persistence remains highly uncertain. Here we study ice production mechanisms in wintertime orographic MPCs observed during the Cloud and Aerosol Characterization Experiment (CLACE) 2014 campaign at the Jungfraujoch site in the Swiss Alps with the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF). Simulations suggest that droplet shattering is not a significant source of ice crystals at this specific location, but breakups upon collisions between ice particles are quite active, elevating the predicted ICNCs by up to 3 orders of magnitude, which is consistent with observations. The initiation of the ice–ice collisional breakup mechanism is primarily associated with the occurrence of seeder–feeder events from higher precipitating cloud layers. The enhanced aggregation of snowflakes is found to drive secondary ice formation in the simulated clouds, the role of which is strengthened when the large hydrometeors interact with the primary ice crystals formed in the feeder cloud. Including a constant source of cloud ice crystals from blowing snow, through the action of the breakup mechanism, can episodically enhance ICNCs. Increases in secondary ice fragment generation can be counterbalanced by enhanced orographic precipitation, which seems to prevent explosive multiplication and cloud dissipation. These findings highlight the importance of secondary ice and seeding mechanisms – primarily falling ice from above and, to a lesser degree, blowing ice from the surface – which frequently enhance primary ice and determine the phase state and properties of MPCs.
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insu-03610927 , version 1 (16-03-2022)


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Paraskevi Georgakaki, Georgia Sotiropoulou, Étienne Vignon, Anne-Claire Billault-Roux, Alexis Berne, et al.. Secondary ice production processes in wintertime alpine mixed-phase clouds. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2022, 22 (3), pp.1965-1988. ⟨10.5194/acp-22-1965-2022⟩. ⟨insu-03610927⟩
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