An assessment of the radiative effects of ice supersaturation based on in situ observations

Xiaoxiao Tan, Yi Huang, Minghui Diao, Aaron Bansemer, Mark A. Zondlo, Joshua P. DiGangi, Rainer Volkamer, Yongyun Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We use aircraft observations combined with the reanalysis data to investigate the radiative effects of ice supersaturation (ISS). Our results show that although the excess water vapor over ice saturation itself has relatively small radiative effects, mistaking it as ice crystals in climate models would lead to considerable impacts: on average, +2.49 W/m2 change in the top of the atmosphere (TOA) radiation, −2.7 W/m2 change in surface radiation, and 1.47 K/d change in heating rates. The radiative effects of ISS generally increase with the magnitudes of supersaturation. However, there is a strong dependence on the preexisting ice water path, which can even change the sign of the TOA radiative effect. It is therefore important to consider coexistence between ISS and ice clouds and to validate their relationship in the parameterizations of ISS in climate models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11,039-11,047
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 28 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • GCM
  • heating rate
  • ice clouds
  • ice supersaturation
  • in situ
  • radiation flux


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