Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 2319-2334, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
01 Apr 2009
Modelling of cirrus clouds – Part 2: Competition of different nucleation mechanisms
P. Spichtinger1 and K. M. Gierens2 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
2Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Abstract. We study the competition of two different freezing mechanisms (homogeneous and heterogeneous freezing) in the same environment for cold cirrus clouds. To this goal we use the recently developed and validated ice microphysics scheme (Spichtinger and Gierens, 2009a) which distinguishes between ice classes according to their formation process. We investigate cases with purely homogeneous ice formation and compare them with cases where background ice nuclei in varying concentration heterogeneously form ice prior to homogeneous nucleation. We perform additionally a couple of sensitivity studies regarding threshold humidity for heterogeneous freezing, uplift speed, and ambient temperature, and we study the influence of random motions induced by temperature fluctuations in the clouds. We find three types of cloud evolution, homogeneously dominated, heterogeneously dominated, and a mixed type where neither nucleation process dominates. The latter case is prone to long–lasting in–cloud ice supersaturation of the order 30% and more.

Citation: Spichtinger, P. and Gierens, K. M.: Modelling of cirrus clouds – Part 2: Competition of different nucleation mechanisms, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 2319-2334,, 2009.
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