Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 171, Issue 8, pp 1963–1982 | Cite as

Numerical Modeling of Ice Fog in Interior Alaska Using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model

  • Chang Ki Kim
  • Martin Stuefer
  • Carl G. Schmitt
  • Andrew Heymsfield
  • Greg Thompson


An ice microphysics parameterization scheme has been modified to better describe and understand ice fog formation. The modeling effort is based on observations in the Sub-Arctic Region of Interior Alaska, where ice fog occurs frequently during the cold season due to abundant water vapor sources and strong inversions existing near the surface at extremely low air temperatures. The microphysical characteristics of ice fog are different from those of other ice clouds, implying that the microphysical processes of ice should be changed in order to generate ice fog particles. Ice fog microphysical characteristics were derived with the NCAR Video Ice Particle Sampler during strong ice fog cases in the vicinity of Fairbanks, Alaska, in January and February 2012. To improve the prediction of ice fog in the Weather Research and Forecasting model, observational data were used to change particle size distribution properties and gravitational settling rates, as well as to implement a homogeneous freezing process. The newly implemented homogeneous freezing process compliments the existing heterogeneous freezing scheme and generates a higher number concentration of ice crystals than the original Thompson scheme. The size distribution of ice crystals is changed into a Gamma distribution with the shape factor of 2.0, using the observed size distribution. Furthermore, gravitational settling rates are reduced for the ice crystals since the crystals in ice fog do not precipitate in a similar manner when compared to the ice crystals of cirrus clouds. The slow terminal velocity plays a role in increasing the time scale for the ice crystals to settle to the surface. Sensitivity tests contribute to understanding the effects of water vapor emissions as an anthropogenic source on the formation of ice fog.


Ice fog Homogeneous freezing Haze droplets Gamma distribution WRF 

Abbreviations and Symbols





\( a_{\text{w,liq}} \)

Water activity of solution in liquid phase

\( \varDelta a_{\text{w}} \)

Difference of water activity between liquid and ice


Diameter for an individual ice crystal


Heat and power plant


Ice water content


Nucleation rate of haze droplets


Nucleation rate of pure water


Molality of solution


Molecular weight of pure water


Experiment with modified Thompson scheme


Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer


Mean sea level pressure


Mass-weighted mean diameter


North American Regional Reanalysis


National Center for Environment Prediction


Experiment without water vapor emission


Number concentration of cloud droplets


Number concentration of haze droplets freezing in time step


Number concentration of cloud droplets freezing in time step


Number concentration of haze droplets


Number concentration of ice crystals


Size distribution




Experiment with original Thompson scheme


Water vapor mixing ratio emitted from the source


Water vapor mixing ratio


Regional atmospheric modeling system


Relative humidity


Rapid Radiative Transfer Model for GCM application


Radius of haze droplet


SUbsonic aircraft: Contrail and Cloud Effects Special Study


Air temperature


Video ice particle sampler


The volume of droplets


The volume of haze droplet


Terminal velocity of ice crystal


Weather research and forecasting


Yonsei University


0.647 × 107




Molal osmotic coefficient


Scale factor


Shape factor


Equivalent potential temperature


Dissociation constant for solute



This work was funded by an award from the U.S. Air Force (Award Number, FA 9550-11-1-0006).


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chang Ki Kim
    • 1
    • 3
  • Martin Stuefer
    • 1
  • Carl G. Schmitt
    • 2
  • Andrew Heymsfield
    • 2
  • Greg Thompson
    • 2
  1. 1.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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