6.4 Formation and implications of large (50-100 microns) crystals in the tropical tropopause layer observed during CRAVE

Tuesday, 11 July 2006: 11:15 AM
Ballroom AD (Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center)
Eric J. Jensen, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; and L. Pfister, P. Lawson, D. Baumgardner, E. M. Weinstock, and J. Smith

Subvisible cirrus clouds near the tropical tropopause were sampled extensively during CRAVE (Costa Rica Aura Validation Experiment). In situ measurements with ice crystal imaging instruments (CAPS, CPI, and 2D-S) indicated the presence of relatively large (50-100 micron diameters), approximately equidimensional crystals in the clouds. These large crystals were sometimes observed very near the cold point at pressures as low as 80-90 hPa. The existence of such large crystals near the tropopause was quite surprising.

We have investigated the formation of large crystals in the tropical tropopause layer with simulations ranging from simple growth-sedimentation calculations for individual crystals to one-dimensional, trajectory-driven Lagrangian calculations including depletion of water vapor by deposition growth. We find that the large crystals can only be explained if the crystals were grown in an extremely supersaturated environment. A very selective nucleation process would be required such that only a small number of crystals are produced preventing reduction of the supersaturation caused by crystal growth. This conclusion is supported by the observations of large supersaturations with respect to ice (relative humidities with respect to ice as large as about 200%). We will show that these results have significant implications for dehydration of air entering the stratosphere.

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