Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 437–451, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-10-437-2010

Special issue: European Integrated Project on Aerosol-Cloud-Climate and Air...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 437–451, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-10-437-2010

  19 Jan 2010

19 Jan 2010

Atmospheric sub-3 nm particles at high altitudes

S. Mirme1, A. Mirme1, A. Minikin2, A. Petzold2, U. Hõrrak1, V. -M. Kerminen3, and M. Kulmala4 S. Mirme et al.
  • 1Institute of Physics, University of Tartu, Ülikooli 18, 50090, Tartu, Estonia
  • 2Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, 00014, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Formation of new atmospheric aerosol particles is known to occur almost all over the world and the importance of these particles to climate and air quality has been recognized. Recently, it was found that atmospheric aerosol particle formation begins at the diameter of around 1.5–2.0 nm and a pool of sub-3 nm atmospheric particles – consisting of both charged and uncharged ones – was observed at the ground level. Here, we report on the first airborne observations of the pool of sub-3 nm neutral atmospheric particles. Between 2 and 3 nm, their concentration is roughly two orders of magnitude larger than that of the ion clusters, depending slightly on the altitude. Our findings indicate that new particle formation takes place throughout the tropospheric column up to the tropopause. Particles were found to be formed via neutral pathways in the boundary layer, and there was no sign of an increasing role by ion-induced nucleation toward the upper troposphere. Clouds, while acting as a source of sub-10 nm ions, did not perturb the overall budget of atmospheric clusters or particles.

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