Journal article

Understanding effective diameter and its application to terrestrial radiation in ice clouds

Mitchell D, Lawson R, Baker B ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 11, issue 7 (2011) pp. 3417-3429

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The cloud property known as "effective diameter" or "effective radius", which in essence is the cloud particle size distribution (PSD) volume at bulk density divided by its projected area, is used extensively in atmospheric radiation transfer, climate modeling and remote sensing. This derives from the assumption that PSD optical properties can be uniquely described in terms of their effective diameter, De, and their cloud water content (CWC), henceforth referred to as the De-CWC assumption. This study challenges this assumption, showing that while the De-CWC assumption appears generally valid for liquid water clouds, it appears less valid for ice clouds in regions where (1) absorption is not primarily a function of either the PSD ice water content (IWC) or the PSD projected area, and (2) where wave resonance (i.e. photon tunneling) contributes significantly to absorption. These two regions often strongly coincide at terrestrial wavelengths when De

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  • D. L. Mitchell

  • R. P. Lawson

  • B. Baker

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