Articles | Volume 12, issue 17
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 8021–8036, 2012
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 8021–8036, 2012

Research article 10 Sep 2012

Research article | 10 Sep 2012

Evidence of an elevated source of nucleation based on model simulations and data from the NIFTy experiment

P. Crippa1, T. Petäjä2, H. Korhonen3, G. S. El Afandi4, and S. C. Pryor1 P. Crippa et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Science Program, College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
  • 2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio Unit, Kuopio, Finland
  • 4College of Agricultural, Environment and Nutrition Sciences – College of Engineering, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088, USA

Abstract. New particle formation has been observed at a number of ground-based measurement sites. Prior research has provided evidence that this new particle formation, while observed in the near-surface layer, is actually occurring in atmospheric layers above the surface and appears to be focused in or close to the residual layer formed by the nocturnal inversion. Here, we present both observations and modeling for southern Indiana which support this postulate. Based on simulations with a detailed aerosol dynamics model and the Weather Research and Forecasting model, along with data from ground-based remote sensing instruments and detailed gas and particle phase measurements, we show evidence that (i) the maximum rate change of ultrafine particle concentrations as observed close to the surface is always preceded by breakdown of the nocturnal inversion and enhancement of vertical mixing and (ii) simulated particle size distributions exhibit greatest accord with surface observations during and subsequent to nucleation only when initialized with a particle size distribution representative of clear atmospheric conditions, rather than the in situ (ground-level) particle size distribution.

Final-revised paper