The Role of Secondary Ice Processes in Midlatitude Continental Clouds

Assaf Zipori, Naama Reicher, Yigal Erel, Daniel Rosenfeld, Amir Sandler, Daniel A. Knopf, Yinon Rudich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Clouds contribute very large uncertainties to our understanding of Earth's climate system. This is partly attributed to the insufficient predictive abilities of ice formation processes in clouds and the ramifications for the hydrological cycle and climate. To improve predictions of ice particle concentrations in clouds, a better understanding of the relative contributions of ice nucleating particles and secondary ice processes (SIPs) is needed. To address this challenging question, we combine ice nucleation measurements via immersion freezing of particles filtered from rainwater, with satellite-retrieved cloud top glaciation temperatures (Tg) of the same clouds, while considering the chemical composition of the rainwater, the particles, and the particles' mass loads. In addition, laboratory-derived ice nucleation parameterization of K-feldspar was implemented in an ice nucleation model in order to reconstruct Tg considering primary ice nucleation only. We show that the observed Tg does not correlate with the median freezing temperature of the drops from the laboratory measurements froze (T50), and are significantly warmer than the model prediction. This suggests that SIP play a major role in glaciating the investigated clouds system. Furthermore, we show that the difference between Tg and T50 best correlates with the size of the cloud droplets at −5 °C, indicating that SIP is controlled by cloud droplet sizes. Hence, our results suggest that the effect of SIP on Tg, and therefore on Earth's radiation budget, may be significant.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)12,762-12,777
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number22
StatePublished - 27 Nov 2018

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©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • aerosols mineralogy
  • clouds glaciation
  • ice nucleation
  • rain chemical composition
  • secondary ice process


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