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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques







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Mixed-phase Southern Ocean clouds are challenging to simulate, and their representation in climate models is an important control on climate sensitivity. In particular, the amount of supercooled water and frozen mass that they contain in the present climate is a predictor of their planetary feedback in a warming climate. The recent Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES) vastly increased the amount of in situ data available from mixed-phase Southern Ocean clouds useful for model evaluation. Bulk measurements distinguishing liquid and ice water content are not available from SOCRATES, so single-particle phase classifications from the Two-Dimensional Stereo (2D-S) probe are invaluable for quantifying mixed-phase cloud properties. Motivated by the presence of large biases in existing phase discrimination algorithms, we develop a novel technique for single-particle phase classification of binary 2D-S images using a random forest algorithm, which we refer to as the University of Washington Ice-Liquid Discriminator (UWILD). UWILD uses 14 parameters computed from binary image data, as well as particle inter-arrival time, to predict phase. We use liquid-only and ice-dominated time periods within the SOCRATES dataset as training and testing data. This novel approach to model training avoids major pitfalls associated with using manually labeled data, including reduced model generalizability and high labor costs. We find that UWILD is well calibrated and has an overall accuracy of 95 % compared to 72 % and 79 % for two existing phase classification algorithms that we compare it with. UWILD improves classifications of small ice crystals and large liquid drops in particular and has more flexibility than the other algorithms to identify both liquid-dominated and ice-dominated regions within the SOCRATES dataset. UWILD misclassifies a small percentage of large liquid drops as ice. Such misclassified particles are typically associated with model confidence below 75 % and can easily be filtered out of the dataset. UWILD phase classifications show that particles with area-equivalent diameter (Deq) < 0.17 mm are mostly liquid at all temperatures sampled, down to -40 °. Larger particles (Deq>0.17 mm) are predominantly frozen at all temperatures below 0 °. Between 0 and 5 °, there are roughly equal numbers of frozen and liquid mid-sized particles (0.170.33 mm) are mostly frozen. We also use UWILD's phase classifications to estimate sub-1 Hz phase heterogeneity, and we show examples of meter-scale cloud phase heterogeneity in the SOCRATES dataset.

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National Center for Atmospheric Research

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Meteorology and Climate Science