Field and Laboratory Perspectives on the Cloud Nucleating Abilities of Aerosol Particles
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Aerosol-cloud interactions represent a significant uncertainty with respect to radiative forcing and future climate change. Both particle composition and size play key, yet poorly understood, roles in determining the cloud nucleating capabilities of aerosols. The following describes ambient and laboratory measurements of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nuclei (IN) measurements from a variety of sources, with the goal of understanding how composition and size interact in forming cloud droplets and ice crystals and the potential importance of aerosol composition and atmospheric aging processes on constraining uncertainties associated with the cloud nucleating properties of aerosols. Motivated by the anthropogenic emissions of soot particles as well as the potential properties of aged soot particles, ice formation and droplet activation of soot particles of various size and composition were studied. Generated soot particles were coated with a variety of atmospherically relevant acids of varying solubility properties. The particles were also exposed to ozone in order to simulate atmospheric oxidation and aging. A custom-built ice chamber was utilized to show that both uncoated and coated soot particles comparable to those generated in our studies are unlikely to significantly contribute to the global budget of heterogeneous IN at relevant atmospheric temperatures. This result is emphasized by comparison to an efficient ice nucleus, such as mineral dust. Coatings and oxidation by ozone also did not significantly alter the ice nucleation behavior of soot particles but aided in the uptake of water, suggesting the altered composition of a hydrophobic particle is important to take into account for cloud droplet activation. To assess the importance of particle composition in cloud droplet activation, measurements of CCN concentrations, single particle composition, and number size distributions were conducted at a high-elevation research site. The temporal evolution of detailed single particle chemical composition was compared with changes in CCN activation. A variety of particle types were observed; CCN activation largely followed the behavior of the sulfate-containing particle types; biomass burning particles also contained hygroscopic material that impacted CCN activation. The observed particles were largely aged; few local sources contributed to the particle composition due to the high elevation of the site. The results were also interpreted in terms of the assumed hygroscopicity of free tropospheric aerosol. As a further examination of the impacts of aging processes on aerosol hygroscopicity measurements of CCN concentrations, aerosol composition, and number size distributions were conducted during the winter season from of a variety of air masses, including aged marine, continental, and urban sources. Based on the measured chemistry and size properties of the ambient aerosol, CCN concentrations were predicted in order to assess the amount of composition detail necessary to explain droplet activation. Direct measurements of the composition of the activated droplets were also conducted with a novel technique to separate activated droplets from un-activated aerosol. Results suggest the importance of inorganic species in droplet activation, with non-oxidized organic species having negligible impacts on total aerosol hygroscopicity. Using the same novel separation technique, measurements of the single particle composition of activated droplet residual particles were determined at an urban site in the summertime, with similar air mass trajectories as the previous wintertime site, as well as influence from local urban aerosol sources. As a function of atmospheric supersaturation conditions the composition of activated droplet residual particles was compared to the ambient aerosol composition. The study was utilized to determine the level of composition and size detail required to describe droplet activation at a site with similar aged air mass trajectories to the previous study.
- Atmospheric sciences