Shape dependence of snow crystal fall speed

Vázquez-Martín, Sandra; Kuhn, Thomas; Eliasson, Salomon

Improved snowfall predictions require accurate knowledge of the properties of ice crystals and snow particles, such as their size, cross-sectional area, shape, and fall speed. The fall speed of ice particles is a critical parameter for the representation of ice clouds and snow in atmospheric numerical models, as it determines the rate of removal of ice from the modelled clouds. Fall speed is also required for snowfall predictions alongside other properties such as ice particle size, cross-sectional area, and shape. For example, shape is important as it strongly influences the scattering properties of these ice particles and thus their response to remote sensing techniques.

This work analyzes fall speed as a function of particle size (maximum dimension), cross-sectional area, and shape using ground-based in situ measurements. The measurements for this study were done in Kiruna, Sweden, during the snowfall seasons of 2014 to 2019, using the ground-based in situ instrument Dual Ice Crystal Imager (D-ICI). The resulting data consist of high-resolution images of falling hydrometeors from two viewing geometries that are used to determine particle size (maximum dimension), cross-sectional area, area ratio, orientation, and the fall speed of individual particles. The selected dataset covers sizes from about 0.06 to 3.2 mm and fall speeds from 0.06 to 1.6 m sinline-formula−1.

Relationships between particle size, cross-sectional area, and fall speed are studied for different shapes. The data show in general low correlations to fitted fall speed relationships due to large spread observed in fall speed. After binning the data according to size or cross-sectional area, correlations improve, and we can report reliable parameterizations of fall speed vs. particle size or cross-sectional area for part of the shapes. For most of these shapes, the fall speed is better correlated with cross-sectional area than with particle size. The effects of orientation and area ratio on the fall speed are also studied, and measurements show that vertically oriented particles fall faster on average. However, most particles for which orientation can be defined fall horizontally.



Vázquez-Martín, Sandra / Kuhn, Thomas / Eliasson, Salomon: Shape dependence of snow crystal fall speed. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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