1Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
2Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV, USA
3Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS), Norman, OK, USA
4Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Abstract. This study uses aircraft measurements of relative humidity and ice crystal size distribution collected during the SPARTICUS (Small PARTicles In CirrUS) field campaign to evaluate and constrain ice cloud parameterizations in the Community Atmosphere Model version 5. About 200 h of data were collected during the campaign between January and June 2010, providing the longest aircraft measurements available so far for cirrus clouds in the midlatitudes. The probability density function (PDF) of ice crystal number concentration (Ni) derived from the high-frequency (1 Hz) measurements features a strong dependence on ambient temperature. As temperature decreases from −35 °C to −62 °C, the peak in the PDF shifts from 10–20 L−1 to 200–1000 L−1, while Ni shows a factor of 6–7 increase.
Model simulations are performed with two different ice nucleation schemes for pure ice-phase clouds. One of the schemes can reproduce a clear increase of Ni with decreasing temperature by using either an observation-based ice nuclei spectrum or a classical-theory-based spectrum with a relatively low (5–10%) maximum freezing ratio for dust aerosols. The simulation with the other scheme, which assumes a high maximum freezing ratio (100%), shows much weaker temperature dependence of Ni. Simulations are also performed to test empirical parameters related to water vapor deposition and the autoconversion of ice crystals to snow. Results show that a value between 0.05 and 0.1 for the water vapor deposition coefficient, and 250 μm for the critical diameter that distinguishes ice crystals from snow, can produce good agreement between model simulation and the SPARTICUS measurements in terms of Ni and effective radius. The climate impact of perturbing these parameters is also discussed.