snowScatt 1.0: consistent model of microphysical and scattering properties of rimed and unrimed snowflakes based on the self-similar Rayleigh–Gans approximation

Ori, Davide; von Terzi, Leonie; Karrer, Markus; Kneifel, Stefan

More detailed observational capabilities in the microwave (MW) range and advancements in the details of microphysical schemes for ice and snow demand increasing complexity to be included in scattering databases. The majority of existing databases rely on the discrete dipole approximation (DDA) whose high computational costs limit either the variety of particle types or the range of parameters included, such as frequency, temperature, and particle size.

The snowScatt tool is innovative in that it provides consistent microphysical and scattering properties of an ensemble of 50 000 snowflake aggregates generated with different physical particle models. Many diverse snowflake types, including rimed particles and aggregates of different monomer composition, are accounted for. The scattering formulation adopted by snowScatt is based on the self-similar Rayleigh–Gans approximation (SSRGA), which is capable of modeling the scattering properties of large ensembles of particles. Previous comparisons of SSRGA and DDA are extended in this study by including unrimed and rimed aggregates up to centimeter sizes and frequencies up to the sub-millimeter spectrum. The results generally reveal the wide applicability of the SSRGA method for active and passive MW applications. Unlike DDA databases, the set of SSRGA parameters can be used to infer scattering properties at any frequency and refractive index; snowScatt also provides tools to derive the SSRGA parameters for new sets of particle structures, which can be easily included in the library.

The flexibility of the snowScatt tool with respect to applications that require continuously changing definitions of snow properties is demonstrated in a forward simulation example based on the output of the predicted particle properties (P3) scheme. The snowScatt tool provides the same level of flexibility as commonly used T-matrix solutions, while the computed scattering properties reach the level of accuracy of detailed discrete dipole approximation calculations.

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Ori, Davide / von Terzi, Leonie / Karrer, Markus / et al: snowScatt 1.0: consistent model of microphysical and scattering properties of rimed and unrimed snowflakes based on the self-similar Rayleigh–Gans approximation. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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