Abstract

We investigate the errors associated with the use of circular cylinders as surrogates for hexagonal columns in computing the optical properties of pristine ice crystals at infrared (8–12-μm) wavelengths. The equivalent circular cylinders are specified in terms of volume (V), projected area (A), and volume-to-area ratio that are equal to those of the hexagonal columns. We use the T-matrix method to compute the optical properties of the equivalent circular cylinders. We apply the finite-difference time-domain method to compute the optical properties of hexagonal ice columns smaller than 40 μm. For hexagonal columns larger than 40 μm we employ an improved geometric optics method and a stretched scattering potential technique developed in previous studies to calculate the phase function and the extinction (or absorption) efficiency, respectively. The differences between the results for circular cylinders and hexagonal columns are of the order of a few percent. Thus it is quite reasonable to use a circular cylinder geometry as a surrogate for pristine hexagonal ice columns for scattering calculations at infrared (8–12-μm) wavelengths. Although the pristine ice crystals can be approximated as circular cylinders in scattering calculations at infrared wavelengths, it is shown that optical properties of individual aggregates cannot be well approximated by those of individual finite columns or cylinders.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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