Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 7167-7209, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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On the representation of immersion and condensation freezing in cloud models using different nucleation schemes
B. Ervens1,2 and G. Feingold2
1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
2Chemical Sciences Division, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Abstract. Ice nucleation in clouds is often observed at temperatures >235 K, pointing to heterogeneous freezing as a predominant mechanism. Many models deterministically predict the number concentration of ice particles as a function of temperature and/or supersaturation. Laboratory experiments at constant temperature and/or supersaturation often report heterogeneous freezing as a stochastic, time-dependent process that follows classical nucleation theory which might appear to contradict singular freezing behavior.

We explore the extent to which the choice of nucleation scheme (deterministic/stochastic, single/multiple contact angles θ) affects the prediction of the frozen ice nuclei (IN) fraction and cloud evolution. A box model with constant temperature and supersaturation is used to mimic published laboratory experiments of immersion freezing of kaolinite (~243 K), and the fitness of different nucleation schemes. Sensitivity studies show that agreement of all five schemes is restricted to the narrow parameter range (time, temperature, IN diameter) in the original laboratory studies.

The schemes are implemented in an adiabatic parcel model that includes feedbacks of the formation and growth of drops and ice particles on supersaturation during the ascent of an air parcel. Model results show that feedbacks of droplets and ice on supersaturation limit ice nucleation events, often leading to smaller differences in number concentration of ice particles and ice water content (IWC) between stochastic and deterministic approaches than expected from the box model studies. However, the different parameterizations of θ distributions and time-dependencies are highly sensitive to IN size and can lead to great differences in predicted ice number concentrations and IWC between the different schemes. Finally, since the choice of nucleation scheme determines the temperature range over which nucleation occurs, at habit-prone temperatures (~253 K) different onset temperatures of freezing create variability in the initial inherent growth ratio of ice particles, which can lead to amplification or reduction in differences in predicted IWC.

Citation: Ervens, B. and Feingold, G.: On the representation of immersion and condensation freezing in cloud models using different nucleation schemes, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 7167-7209, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-7167-2012, 2012.
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