Aerosol nucleation spikes in the planetary boundary layer
Abstract. Photochemically driven nucleation bursts, which typically occur within a few hours after sunrise, often produce strong aerosol number concentration (ANC) fluctuations. The causes of such ANC spikes were investigated using a detailed aerosol model running in the parcel mode. Two potential mechanisms for the ANC spikes were proposed and simulated. The blocking of actinic flux by scattered clouds can significantly influence new particle production, but this does not cause strong fluctuations in the number of aerosols within sizes greater than the detection limit of our measurements. A more plausible mechanism is the turbulence eddy effect. Strong aerosol nucleation may occur in both updrafts and downdrafts, while the cloud formation at the boundary layer top strongly reduces the number of aerosols. As the number of aerosols is sensitive to turbulence eddy and cloud formation properties, a changing turbulence condition would result in large fluctuations in the evolution of ANC similar to that observed at the surface.