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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 4 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 1973-1985, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-14-1973-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 20 Feb 2014

Research article | 20 Feb 2014

Ice particles in the upper anvil regions of midlatitude continental thunderstorms: the case for frozen-drop aggregates

J. L. Stith1, L. M. Avallone2,*, A. Bansemer1, B. Basarab3, S. W. Dorsi4, B. Fuchs3, R. P. Lawson5, D. C. Rogers1, S. Rutledge3, and D. W. Toohey6 J. L. Stith et al.
  • 1National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 2Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 3Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
  • 4CIRES, University of Colorado and NOAA-ESRL, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 5SPEC Incorporated, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 6Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • *now at: National Science Foundation, Arlington, Virginia, USA

Abstract. This study examines the occurrence and morphology of frozen-drop aggregates in thunderstorm anvils from the United States Midwest and describes the environmental conditions where they are found. In situ airborne data collected in anvils using several particle imaging and sizing probes and bulk total water instrumentation during the 2012 Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry experiment are examined for the presence of frozen-drop aggregates. Chains of frozen drops have been only rarely reported before and are hypothesized to aggregate due to electrical forces in the clouds. They were identified in nine of the anvil cases examined to date, suggesting that they are common features in these Midwestern anvils. High concentrations of individual frozen droplets occurred on the tops and edges of one particular set of anvils, while regions closer to the center and bottom of these anvils exhibited fewer frozen drops and more frozen-drop aggregates. Bulk ice water content measurements across these anvils could only be explained by contributions from both small particles (frozen droplets) and large particles (large aggregates of frozen droplets). Dual Doppler radar analysis confirmed the presence of deep and strong (> 15 m s−1) updrafts in the parent cloud of one of the anvils. These features contrast with previous anvil measurements in tropical/maritime anvils that evidently do not exhibit the same frequency of frozen-drop aggregates.

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