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Colloquium

Department of Atmospheric Science

Tues., Mar. 27, 3:10 pm, EN6085

Chaotic cloud particles: Applying fractal theory to describe atmospheric ice cloud particle shapes

Dr. Carl Schmitt

NCAR/MMM

Abstract

In 18 years of studying images of atmospheric ice cloud particles, there are several observations that I can make. Two of those observations are that, 1, the traditional hexagonal prism shaped ice crystal is exceedingly rare, and 2, it is true, no two crystals look identical.

The overwhelming majority of atmospheric ice particles are "irregular" in shape. In this presentation I will chronicle my work in trying to mathematically tame the chaotic nature of ice particles. Fractal geometry can be used to describe populations of chaotically grown particles, and sub-millimeter size ice particles in the atmosphere do experience a chaotic life.

Atmospheric ice particles can be roughly categorized by size. Small, single crystals, whose properties are often described using vapor growth models. The properties of large irregular aggregates can be well described using fractal geometry. The transition between the two particle populations can be complicated and is the focus of current research. We use the Ice Particle Aggregation Simulator model (IPAS) and Cloud Particle Imager (CPI) aircraft instrument measurements to investigate the characteristics of early growth aggregates to bridge the gap and to identify the transitions between particle populations.


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