Johnson et al. (2016)

An investigation on the scattering properties of melting snow aggregates


B. T. Johnson, W. S. Olson, and G. Skofronick-Jackson



Johnson, B. T., Olson, W. S., and Skofronick-Jackson, G.: The microwave properties of simulated melting precipitation particles: sensitivity to initial melting, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 9, 9–21,, 2016.

Particle types

melting aggregates of dendrites


100 microns to 14 millimeters


13.6, to 183.31 GHz





Scattering method


A simplified approach is presented for assessing the microwave response to the initial melting of realistically shaped ice particles. This paper is divided into two parts: (1) a description of the Single Particle Melting Model (SPMM), a heuristic melting simulation for ice-phase precipitation particles of any shape or size (SPMM is applied to two simulated aggregate snow particles, simulating melting up to 0.15 melt fraction by mass), and (2) the computation of the singleparticle microwave scattering and extinction properties of these hydrometeors, using the discrete dipole approximation (via DDSCAT), at the following selected frequencies: 13.4, 35.6, and 94.0 GHz for radar applications and 89, 165.0, and 183.31 GHz for radiometer applications. These selected frequencies are consistent with current microwave remotesensing platforms, such as CloudSat and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. Comparisons with calculations using variable-density spheres indicate significant deviations in scattering and extinction properties throughout the initial range of melting (liquid volume fractions less than 0.15). Integration of the single-particle properties over an exponential particle size distribution provides additional insight into idealized radar reflectivity and passive microwave brightness temperature sensitivity to variations in size/mass, shape, melt fraction, and particle orientation.

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