Understanding the microphysical properties—ice water content, ice crystal size, shape, density, distribution, et al—of cirrus clouds is a critical factor in determining their radiative effects in the atmosphere. Discrepancies among measurements taken from different instruments, regarding the number and size of small ice crystals (maximum diameter < 50 micrometers) within the same cirrus clouds, is the dilemma that SPARTICUS hopes to help resolve.
Data from SPARTICUS will allow scientists to move forward with greater confidence in answering the following questions:
- To what degree do small particles (i.e., < 50 µm diameter) contribute to the mass and radiative properties of midlatitude cirrus?
- How do cloud-scale dynamical processes control the evolution of cirrus properties through nucleation, particle growth, and sublimation?
- What degree of complexity is required in cloud property retrieval algorithms, and what minimal set of algorithms can be used to rigorously describe cirrus microphysical properties using ground-based ACRF data?