Observing ice particle growth along fall streaks in mixed-phase clouds using spectral polarimetric radar data

Lukas Pfitzenmaier*, Christine M.H. Unal, Yann Dufournet, Herman W.J. Russchenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


The growth of ice crystals in presence of supercooled liquid droplets represents the most important process for precipitation formation in the mid-latitudes. However, such mixed-phase interaction processes remain relatively unknown, as capturing the complexity in cloud dynamics and microphysical variabilities turns to be a real observational challenge. Ground-based radar systems equipped with fully polarimetric and Doppler capabilities in high temporal and spatial resolutions such as the S-band transportable atmospheric radar (TARA) are best suited to observe mixed-phase growth processes. In this paper, measurements are taken with the TARA radar during the ACCEPT campaign (analysis of the composition of clouds with extended polarization techniques). Besides the common radar observables, the 3-D wind field is also retrieved due to TARA unique three beam configuration. The novelty of this paper is to combine all these observations with a particle evolution detection algorithm based on a new fall streak retrieval technique in order to study ice particle growth within complex precipitating mixed-phased cloud systems. In the presented cases, three different growth processes of ice crystals, plate-like crystals, and needles are detected and related to the presence of supercooled liquid water. Moreover, TARA observed signatures are assessed with co-located measurements obtained from a cloud radar and radiosondes. This paper shows that it is possible to observe ice particle growth processes within complex systems taking advantage of adequate technology and state of the art retrieval algorithms. A significant improvement is made towards a conclusive interpretation of ice particle growth processes and their contribution to rain production using fall streak rearranged radar data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7843-7862
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2018


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