This study aimed to assess tropical cloud properties predicted by Environment and Climate Change Canada's Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model when run with the Milbrandt‐Yau double‐moment cloud microphysical scheme and one‐way nesting that culminated at a (~300 km)2 inner‐domain with 0.25 km horizontal grid‐spacing. The assessment utilized satellite and in situ data collected during the High Ice Water Content (HIWC) and High Altitude Ice Crystal (HAIC) projects for a mesoscale convective system on 16 May 2017 over French Guiana. Data from CloudSat's cloud‐profiling radar and GOES‐13's imager were compared to data either simulated directly by GEM or produced by operating on GEM's cloud data with both the CFMIP (Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project) Observation Simulator Package (COSP) instrument simulator and a 3D Monte Carlo solar radiative transfer model. In situ observations were made from research aircraft ‐ Canada's National Research Council Convair‐580 and the French SAFIRE Falcon‐20 ‐ whose flight paths were aligned with CloudSat's ground‐track. Spatial and temporal shifts of clouds simulated by GEM compared well to GOES‐13 imagery. There are, however, differences between simulated and observed amounts of high and low cloud. While GEM did well at predicting ranges of IWC near 11 km altitude (Falcon‐20), it produces too much graupel and snow near 7 km (Convair‐580). This produced large differences between CloudSat's and COSP‐generated radar reflectivities and two‐way attenuations. On the other hand, CloudSat's inferred values of IWC agree well with in situ samples at both altitudes. Generally, GEM's visible reflectances exceeded GOES‐13's on account of having produced too much low‐level liquid clouds. It is expected that GEM's disproportioning of cloud hydrometeors will improve once it includes a better representation of secondary ice production.
Over the decades, the cloud physics community has debated the nature and role of aerosol particles in ice initiation. The present study shows that the measured concentration of ice crystals in tropical mesoscale convective systems exceeds the concentration of ice nucleating particles (INPs) by several orders of magnitude. The concentration of INPs was assessed from the measured aerosol particle concentration in the size range of 0.5 to 1 µm. The observations from this study suggest that primary ice crystals formed on INPs make only a minor contribution to the total concentration of ice crystals in tropical mesoscale convective systems. This is found by comparing the predicted INP number concentrations with in situ ice particle number concentrations. The obtained measurements suggest that ice multiplication is the likely explanation for the observed high concentrations of ice crystals in this type of convective system.
This paper presents a methodology for ice water content (IWC) retrieval from a dual-polarization side-looking X-band airborne radar. Measured IWC from aircraft in-situ probes is weighted by a function of the radar differential reflectivity (Zdr) to reduce the effects of ice crystal shape and orientation on the variation of IWC – specific differential phase (Kdp) joint distribution. A theoretical study indicates that the proposed method, which does not require a knowledge of the particle size distribution (PSD) and number density of ice crystals, is suitable for high ice water content (HIWC) regions in tropical convective clouds. Using datasets collected during the High Altitude Ice Crystal – High Ice Water Content (HAIC-HIWC) international field campaign in Cayenne, French Guiana (2015), it is shown that the proposed method improves the estimation bias by 15 % on average and reduces the root mean squared difference by 6 %, compared to the method using specific differential phase (Kdp) alone.
In situ cloud data from three international flight campaigns are compared to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 33 Appendix D mixed-phase/glaciated environmental envelope and the corresponding identical European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) CS-25 Appendix P envelope. The appendices consist of a temperature-altitude envelope, a 99th percentile total water content (TWC) envelope at the 17.4 Nm distance scale, a distance factor for estimation at other distance scales, ice crystal median mass diameter (MMD), and recommended liquid water content (LWC) levels in mixed-phase icing conditions. The data were collected during 54 flights out of one subtropical and two tropical locations, with 472 runs from about 17,000 ft to 39,000 ft in approximately 115 clouds. The campaigns provide about 29,600 Nm of in situ data in deep convection over four targeted temperature intervals: −10°C, −30°C, −40°C, and −50°C, all ±5°C. The dataset is a modern and unique documentation of the deep convective cloud ice crystal icing (ICI) environment, and the results described in this article will contribute to regulatory and industry assessment of Appendices D and P.
High Ice Water Content (HIWC) regions above tropical mesoscale convective systems are investigated using data from the second collaboration of the High Altitude Ice Crystals and High Ice Water Content projects (HAIC-HIWC) based in Cayenne, French Guiana in 2015. Observations from in-situ cloud probes on the French Falcon 20 determine the microphysical and thermodynamic properties of such regions. Data from a 2-D stereo probe and precipitation imaging probe show how statistical distributions of ice crystal mass median diameter ( MMD ), ice water content ( IWC ), and total number concentration ( N t ) for particles with maximum dimension ( D max ) > 55 μm vary with environmental conditions, temperature ( T ), and convective properties such as vertical velocity ( w ), MCS age, distance away from convective peak ( L ), and surface characteristics. IWC is significantly correlated with w , whereas MMD decreases and N t increases with decreasing T consistent with aggregation, sedimentation and vapor deposition processes at lower altitudes. MMD typically increases with IWC when IWC < 0.5 g m ⁻³ , but decreases with IWC when IWC > 0.5 g m ⁻³ for -15 °C ≤ T ≤ -5 °C. Trends also depend on environmental conditions, such as presence of convective updrafts that are the ice crystal source, MMD being larger in older MCSs consistent with aggregation and less injection of small crystals into anvils, and IWC s decrease with increasing L at lower T . The relationship between IWC and MMD depends on environmental conditions, with correlations decreasing with decreasing T . The strength of correlation between IWC and N t increases as T decreases.
This paper presents a methodology for ice water content (IWC) retrieval from a dual-polarization side-looking X-band airborne radar. Measured IWC from aircraft in situ probes is weighted by a function of the radar differential reflectivity (Zdr) to reduce the effects of ice crystal shape and orientation on the variation in IWC – specific differential phase (Kdp) joint distribution. A theoretical study indicates that the proposed method, which does not require a knowledge of the particle size distribution (PSD) and number density of ice crystals, is suitable for high-ice-water-content (HIWC) regions in tropical convective clouds. Using datasets collected during the High Altitude Ice Crystals – High Ice Water Content (HAIC-HIWC) international field campaign in Cayenne, French Guiana (2015), it is shown that the proposed method improves the estimation bias by 35 % and increases the correlation by 4 % on average, compared to the method using specific differential phase (Kdp) alone.
Regions with high ice water content (HIWC), composed of mainly small ice crystals, frequently occur over convective clouds in the tropics. Such regions can have median mass diameters (MMDs)
Secondary ice production (SIP) plays a key role in the formation of ice particles in tropospheric clouds. Future improvement of the accuracy of weather prediction and climate models relies on a proper description of SIP in numerical simulations. For now, laboratory studies remain a primary tool for developing physically based parameterizations for cloud modeling. Over the past 7 decades, six different SIP-identifying mechanisms have emerged: (1) shattering during droplet freezing, (2) the rime-splintering (Hallett-Mossop) process, (3) fragmentation due to ice-ice collision, (4) ice particle fragmentation due to thermal shock, (5) fragmentation of sublimating ice, and (6) activation of ice-nucleating particles in transient supersaturation around freezing drops. This work presents a critical review of the laboratory studies related to secondary ice production. While some of the six mechanisms have received little research attention, for others contradictory results have been obtained by different research groups. Unfortunately, despite vast investigative efforts , the lack of consistency and the gaps in the accumulated knowledge hinder the development of quantitative descriptions of any of the six SIP mechanisms. The present work aims to identify gaps in our knowledge of SIP as well as to stimulate further laboratory studies focused on obtaining a quantitative description of efficiencies for each SIP mechanism .
Secondary ice production (SIP) plays a key role in the formation of ice particles in tropospheric clouds. Future improvement of the accuracy of the weather predictions and climate models relies on a proper description of SIP in numerical simulations. For now, laboratory studies remain a primary tool for developing physically based parameterizations for cloud modeling. Over the past seven decades, six different SIP-identifying mechanisms have emerged: (1) shattering during droplet freezing; (2) the rime splintering (Hallett-Mossop) process; (3) fragmentation due to ice-ice collision; (4) ice particle fragmentation due to thermal shock; (5) fragmentation of sublimating ice; (6) activation of ice nucleating particles in transient supersaturation around freezing drops. This work presents a critical review of the laboratory studies related to secondary ice production. While some of the six mechanisms have received little research attention, others consist of contradictory results obtained by different research groups. Unfortunately, despite past investigative efforts, the lack of consistency and the gaps in the accumulated knowledge hinder the development of quantitative descriptions of any of the six SIP mechanisms. The present work is aimed at identifying gaps in our knowledge on SIP and on stimulating further laboratory studies in obtaining a quantitative description of efficiencies for each of SIP mechanism.
This study presents a statistical analysis of the properties of ice hydrometeors in tropical mesoscale convective systems observed during four different aircraft campaigns. Among the instruments on board the aircraft, we focus on the synergy of a 94 GHz cloud radar and two optical array probes (OAP; measuring hydrometeor sizes from 10 µm to about 1 cm). For two campaigns, an accurate simultaneous measurement of the ice water content is available, while for the two others, ice water content is retrieved from the synergy of the radar reflectivity measurements and hydrometeor size and morphological retrievals from OAP probes. The statistics of ice hydrometeor properties are calculated as a function of radar reflectivity factor measurement percentiles and temperature. Hence, mesoscale convective systems (MCS) microphysical properties (ice water content, visible extinction, mass–size relationship coefficients, total concentrations, and second and third moments of hydrometeor size distribution) are sorted in temperature (and thus altitude) zones, and each individual campaign is subsequently analyzed with respect to median microphysical properties of the merged dataset (merging all four campaign datasets). The study demonstrates that ice water content (IWC), visible extinction, total crystal concentration, and the second and third moments of hydrometeor size distributions are similar in all four types of MCS for IWC larger than 0.1 g m−3. Finally, two parameterizations are developed for deep convective systems. The first concerns the calculation of the visible extinction as a function of temperature and ice water content. The second concerns the calculation of hydrometeor size distributions as a function of ice water content and temperature that can be used in numerical weather prediction.
. This study attempts a new identification of mechanisms of secondary ice production (SIP) based on the observation of small faceted ice crystals (hexagonal plates or columns) with typical sizes smaller than 100 um. Due to their young age, such small ice crystals can be used as tracers for identifying the conditions for SIP. Observations reported here were conducted in oceanic tropical mesoscale convective systems (MCS) and mid-latitude frontal clouds in the temperature range from 0°C to -15°C and heavily seeded by aged ice particles. It was found that in both MCSs and frontal clouds, SIP was observed right above the melting layer and extended to higher altitudes with colder temperatures. The roles of six possible mechanisms to generate the SIP particles are assessed using additional observations. In most observed SIP cases, small secondary ice particles spatially correlated with liquid phase, vertical updrafts and aged rimed ice particles. However, in many cases, neither graupel nor liquid drops were observed in the SIP regions, and therefore, the conditions for an active Hallett-Mossop process were not met. In many cases, large concentrations of small pristine ice particles were observed right above the melting layer starting at temperatures as warm as -0.5°C. It is proposed that the initiation of SIP above the melting layer is stimulated by the recirculation of large liquid drops through the melting layer with convective turbulent updrafts. After re-entering a supercooled environment above the melting layer they impact with aged ice, freeze and shatter. The size of the splinters generated during SIP was estimated as 10 um or less. A principal conclusion of this work is that only the freezing drop shattering mechanism could be clearly supported by the airborne in-situ observations.
This study presents a statistical analysis of the properties of ice hydrometeors in tropical mesoscale convective systems observed during four different aircraft campaigns. Among the instruments on board the aircraft, we focus on the synergy of a 94GHz cloud radar and 2 optical array probes (OAP; measuring hydrometeor sizes from 10µm to about 1cm). 15 For two campaigns, an accurate simultaneous measurement of the ice water content is available, while for the two others, ice water content is retrieved from the synergy of the radar reflectivity measurements and hydrometeor size and morphological retrievals from OAP probes. The statistics of ice hydrometeor properties is calculated as a function of radar reflectivity factor measurement percentiles and temperature. Hence, mesoscale convective systems (MCS) microphysical properties (ice water content, visible extinction, mass-size relationship coefficients, total concentrations and second and third moment of 20 hydrometeors size distribution) are sorted in temperature (thus altitude) zones, and subsequently each individual campaign is analysed with respect to median microphysical properties of the global dataset (merging all 4 campaign datasets). The study demonstrates that ice water content (IWC), visible extinction, total crystal concentration, and second and third moments of hydrometeors size distributions are similar in all 4 type of MCS for IWC larger than 0.1g m-3. Finally, two parameterizations are developed for deep convective systems. The first one concerns the calculation of the visible extinction as a function of 25 temperature and ice water content. The second one concerns the calculation of hydrometeor size distributions as a function of ice water content and temperature that can be used in numerical weather prediction.
Recent studies have found that ingestion of high mass concentrations of ice particles in regions of deep convective storms, with radar reflectivity considered safe for aircraft penetration, can adversely impact aircraft engine performance. Previous aviation industry studies have used the term high ice water content (HIWC) to define such conditions. Three airborne field campaigns were conducted in 2014 and 2015 to better understand how HIWC is distributed in deep convection, both as a function of altitude and proximity to convective updraft regions, and to facilitate development of new methods for detecting HIWC conditions, in addition to many other research and regulatory goals. This paper describes a prototype method for detecting HIWC conditions using geostationary (GEO) satellite imager data coupled with in situ total water content (TWC) observations collected during the flight campaigns. Three satellite-derived parameters were determined to be most useful for determining HIWC probability: (1) the horizontal proximity of the aircraft to the nearest overshooting convective updraft or textured anvil cloud, (2) tropopause-relative infrared brightness temperature, and (3) daytime-only cloud optical depth. Statistical fits between collocated TWC and GEO satellite parameters were used to determine the membership functions for the fuzzy logic derivation of HIWC probability. The products were demonstrated using data from several campaign flights and validated using a subset of the satellite–aircraft collocation database. The daytime HIWC probability was found to agree quite well with TWC time trends and identified extreme TWC events with high probability. Discrimination of HIWC was more challenging at night with IR-only information. The products show the greatest capability for discriminating TWC ≥ 0.5 g m⁻³. Product validation remains challenging due to vertical TWC uncertainties and the typically coarse spatio-temporal resolution of the GEO data.
Simulations of tropical convection from an operational numerical weather prediction model are evaluated with the focus on the model's ability to simulate the observed high ice water contents associated with the outflow of deep convection and to investigate the modelled processes that control the phase composition of tropical convective clouds. The intensification and decay of convective strength across the mesoscale convective system lifecycle is simulated well, however, the areas with reflectivities > 30 dBZ are overestimated due to too much rain above the freezing level, stronger updrafts and larger particle sizes in the model. The inclusion of a heterogeneous rain freezing parameterisation and the use of different ice size distributions show better agreement with the observed reflectivity distributions, however, this simulation still produces a broader profile with many high reflectivity outliers demonstrating the greater occurrence of convective cells in the simulations. It is shown that the growth of ice is less dependent on vertical velocity than is liquid water, with the control on liquid water content being the updraft strength due to stronger updrafts having minimal entrainment and higher supersaturations. Larger liquid water contents are produced when cloud droplet number concentrations are increased or when a parameterisation of heterogeneous freezing of rain is included. These changes reduce the efficiency of the warm rain processes in the model generating greater supercooled liquid water contents. The control on ice water content in the model is the ice sizes and available liquid water, with the larger ice particles growing more efficiently via accretion and riming. Limiting or excluding graupel produces larger ice water contents for warmer temperatures due to the greater ice mass contained in slow falling snow particles. This results in longer in-cloud residence times and more efficient removal of liquid water. It is demon strated that entrainment in the mixed-phase regions of convective updrafts is most sensitive to the turbulence formulation in the model. Greater mixing of environmental air into cloudy updrafts in the region of -30 to 0 degrees Celsius produces more detrainment at these temperatures and the generation of a larger stratiform area. Above these levels in the purely ice region of the updrafts, the entrainment and buoyancy of air parcels is controlled by the ice particle sizes, demonstrating the importance of the microphysical processes on the convective dynamics.
The High Altitude Ice Crystals – High Ice Water Content (HAIC-HIWC) joint field campaign produced aircraft retrievals of total condensed water content (TWC), hydrometeor particle size distributions (PSDs), and vertical velocity (w) in high ice water content regions of mature and decaying tropical mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). The resulting dataset is used here to explore causes of the commonly documented high bias in radar reflectivity within cloud-resolving simulations of deep convection. This bias has been linked to overly strong simulated convective updrafts lofting excessive condensate mass but is also modulated by parameterizations of hydrometeor size distributions, single particle properties, species separation, and microphysical processes. Observations are compared with three Weather Research and Forecasting model simulations of an observed MCS using different microphysics parameterizations while controlling for w, TWC, and temperature. Two popular bulk microphysics schemes (Thompson and Morrison) and one bin microphysics scheme (fast spectral bin microphysics) are compared. For temperatures between −10 and −40 °C and TWC > 1 g m⁻³, all microphysics schemes produce median mass diameters (MMDs) that are generally larger than observed, and the precipitating ice species that controls this size bias varies by scheme, temperature, and w. Despite a much greater number of samples, all simulations fail to reproduce observed high-TWC conditions ( > 2 g m⁻³) between −20 and −40 °C in which only a small fraction of condensate mass is found in relatively large particle sizes greater than 1 mm in diameter. Although more mass is distributed to large particle sizes relative to those observed across all schemes when controlling for temperature, w, and TWC, differences with observations are significantly variable between the schemes tested. As a result, this bias is hypothesized to partly result from errors in parameterized hydrometeor PSD and single particle properties, but because it is present in all schemes, it may also partly result from errors in parameterized microphysical processes present in all schemes. Because of these ubiquitous ice size biases, the frequently used microphysical parameterizations evaluated in this study inherently produce a high bias in convective reflectivity for a wide range of temperatures, vertical velocities, and TWCs.
Mass-dimensional relationships (m-D) have been published for decades to characterize the microphysical properties of ice cloud particles. Classical m-D retrieval methods employ a simplifying assumption that restricts the form of the mass-dimensional relationship to a power law, an assumption that was proved inaccurate in recent studies. In this paper, a nonstandard approach that leverages optimal use of in situ measurements to remove the power-law constraint is presented. A model formulated as a linear system of equations relating ice particle mass to particle size distribution (PSD) and ice water content (IWC) is established, and the mass retrieval process consists of solving the inverse problem with numerical optimization algorithms. First, the method is applied to a synthetic crystal dataset in order to validate the selected algorithms and to tune the regularization strategy. Subsequently, the method is applied to in situ measurements collected during the High Altitude Ice Crystal-High Ice Water Content field campaigns. Preliminary results confirm the method is efficient at retrieving size-dependent masses from real data despite a significant amount of noise: the IWC values calculated from the retrieved masses are in good agreement with reference IWC measurements (errors on the order of 10%-15%). The possibility to retrieve ice particle size-dependent masses combined with the flexibility left for sorting datasets as a function of parameters such as cloud temperature, cloud type, or convective index makes this approach well suited for studying ice cloud microphysical properties.
High ice water content (IWC) regions in mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) are a potential threat to commercial aviation, as they are suspected to cause in-service engine power-loss events and air data probe malfunctions. To investigate this, the high-altitude ice crystals (HAIC)/high ice water content (HIWC) projects set up a first field campaign in Darwin (Australia) in 2014. The airborne instrumentation was selected to provide the most accurate measurements of both the bulk total water content (TWC), using a specially developed isokinetic evaporator, and the individual ice crystals properties, using particle imaging probes. This study focuses on determining the size ranges of ice crystals responsible for the mass in high IWC regions, defined here as cloud regions with IWC greater than 1.5 gm3. It is shown that for high IWC areas in most of the encountered MCSs, median mass diameters (MMDs) of ice crystals range from 250 to 500 um and decrease with increasing TWC and decreasing temperature. At the same time, the mass contribution of the smallest crystals (below 100 um) remains generally low (below 15%). In contrast, data from two flight missions in a long-lasting quasi-stationary tropical storm reveal that high IWC values can also be associated with MMDs in the range 400–800 um and peak values of up to 2 mm. Ice crystal images suggest a major growth contribution by vapor deposition (columns, capped columns) even for such larger MMD values.
Engine and air data probe manufacturers, as well as aviation agencies, are interested in better characterization of high ice water content (HIWC) areas close to thunderstorms, since HIWC conditions are suspected to cause in-service engine power loss and air data events on commercial aircraft. In this context, a collaborative field campaign has been conducted by high-altitude ice crystals (HAIC) and HIWC projects in order to provide ice water content and median mass diameter (MMD) of ice crystals in the HIWC environment. The computation of MMD from in situ measurements relies mainly on the definition of the crystal dimension D and on the relationship, which is used to convert number into mass distributions. The first part of this study shows that MMD can significantly deviate when using different mass–size relationships from the literature. Sensitivity tests demonstrate that MMD is significantly impacted by the choice of β. However, the larger contributor to MMD differences seems to be the choice of the size definition D itself. Since MMDs are quite sensitive to β, this study suggests a generic method for deducing β solely from optical array probes (OAPs) image data for various size definitions. The method is based on simulations of 3D crystal objects projected onto a 2D plane, thereby relating crystal mass to 2D area (projection) and perimeter. The MMD values calculated for different size definitions are quite similar, at least much closer than MMDs derived from different m(D) relationships in the literature.
This study presents the evaluation of a technique to estimate cloud condensed water content (CWC) in tropical convection from airborne cloud radar reflectivity factors at 94 GHz and in situ measurements of particle size distributions (PSDs) and aspect ratios of ice crystal populations. The approach is to calculate from each 5 s mean PSD and flight-level reflectivity the variability of all possible solutions of m(D) relationships fulfilling the condition that the simulated radar reflectivity factor (T-matrix method) matches the measured radar reflectivity factor. For the reflectivity simulations, ice crystals were approximated as oblate spheroids, without using a priori assumptions on the mass–size relationship of ice crystals. The CWC calculations demonstrate that individual CWC values are in the range ±32 % of the retrieved average CWC value over all CWC solutions for the chosen 5 s time intervals. In addition, during the airborne field campaign performed out of Darwin in 2014, as part of the international High Altitude Ice Crystals/High Ice Water Content (HAIC/HIWC) projects, CWCs were measured independently with the new IKP-2 (isokinetic evaporator probe) instrument along with simultaneous particle imagery and radar reflectivity. Retrieved CWCs from the T-matrix radar reflectivity simulations are on average 16 % higher than the direct CWCIKP measurements. The differences between the CWCIKP and averaged retrieved CWCs are found to be primarily a function of the total number concentration of ice crystals. Consequently, a correction term is applied (as a function of total number concentration) that significantly improves the retrieved CWC. After correction, the retrieved CWCs have a median relative error with respect to measured values of only −1 %. Uncertainties in the measurements of total concentration of hydrometeors are investigated in order to calculate their contribution to the relative error of calculated CWC with respect to measured CWCIKP. It is shown that an overestimation of the concentration by about +50 % increases the relative errors of retrieved CWCs by only +29 %, while possible shattering, which impacts only the concentration of small hydrometeors, increases the relative error by about +4 %. Moreover, all cloud events with encountered graupel particles were studied and compared to events without observed graupel particles. Overall, graupel particles seem to have the largest impact on high crystal number-concentration conditions and show relative errors in retrieved CWCs that are higher than for events without graupel particles.
In this paper we use unprecedented bulk measurements of ice water content (IWC) up to approximately 5 gm-3 and 95 GHz radar reflectivities (Z95) to analyze the statistical relationship between these two quantities and its variability. The unique aspect of this study is that these IWC – Z95 relationships do not use assumptions on cloud microphysics or backscattering calculations. IWCs greater than 2 gm-3 are also included for the first time in such analysis, owing to improved bulk IWC probe technology and a flight program targeting high ice water content. Using a single IWC – Z95 relationship allows for the retrieval of IWC from radar reflectivities with less than 30% bias and 40-70% rms difference. These errors can be reduced further down to 10-20% bias over the whole IWC range using the temperature variability of this relationship. IWC errors largely increase for Z95> 15-16 dBZ, due to the distortion of the IWC – Z95 relationship by non-Rayleigh scattering effects. A non-linear relationship is proposed to reduce these errors down to 20% bias and 20-35% rms differences. This non-linear relationship also outperforms the temperature-dependent IWC – Z95 relationship for convective profiles. The joint frequency distribution of IWC and temperature within and around deep tropical convective cores shows that at the -50°C ± 5°C level – the cruise altitude of many commercial jet aircraft – IWCs greater than 1.5 gm-3 were found exclusively in convective profiles.
High ice water content (IWC) regions in Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS) are a potential threat to commercial aviation as they are suspected to cause in-service engine power-loss events and air data probe malfunctions. To investigate this, the High Altitude Ice Crystals (HAIC) / High Ice Water Content (HIWC) projects set up a first field campaign in Darwin (Australia) in 2014. The airborne instrumentation was selected to provide the most accurate measurements of both the bulk total water content (TWC), using a specially developed isokinetic evaporator, and the individual ice crystals properties using particle imaging probes. This study focuses on determining the size ranges of ice crystals responsible for the mass in high IWC regions, defined here as cloud regions with IWC greater than 1.5gm⁻³. It is shown that for high IWC areas in most of the encountered MCS systems, median mass diameters (MMDs) of ice crystals range from 250 to 500μm and decrease with increasing TWC and decreasing temperature. At the same time, the mass contribution of the smallest crystals (below 100μm) remains generally low (below 15%). In contrast, data from two flight missions in a long-lasting quasi-stationary tropical storm reveal that high IWC values can also be associated with MMDs in the range 400-800 μm and peak values of up to 2mm. Ice crystal images suggest a major growth contribution by vapor deposition (columns, capped columns) even for such larger MMDs values.