Ice microphysics observations collected from eight flights into tropical cyclones (TCs) were analyzed to examine the performance of exponential versus gamma functions in representing the particle size distributions (PSDs) for cloud ice, snow, and graupel. Eighty-four percent (87%) of cloud ice (snow) PSDs are above the correlation threshold of 0.9 between observations and the corresponding fitted curves by gamma fits, while only 43% (55%) of cloud ice (snow) PSDs by exponential fits. Sixteen percent of graupel PSDs are above the threshold by gamma fits but none by exponential fits. The intercept, slope, and shape in gamma functions are mutually dependent. When one among the three parameters is prescribed, the other two can be empirically rendered from the mutual-dependence relationship. Counterintuitively, temperature does not play a conspicuous role in controlling ice PSDs in the TC environment but horizontal winds do, especially for snow, through the breakup process.
- exponential function
- gamma function
- ice particle size distribution
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)