Articles | Volume 12, issue 18
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 8611–8632, 2012
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 8611–8632, 2012

Research article 25 Sep 2012

Research article | 25 Sep 2012

Glassy aerosols with a range of compositions nucleate ice heterogeneously at cirrus temperatures

T. W. Wilson1,2, B. J. Murray1, R. Wagner3, O. Möhler3, H. Saathoff3, M. Schnaiter3, J. Skrotzki3, H. C. Price1, T. L. Malkin1, S. Dobbie1, and S. M. R. K. Al-Jumur1 T. W. Wilson et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK
  • 2School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, UK
  • 3Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

Abstract. Atmospheric secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is likely to exist in a semi-solid or glassy state, particularly at low temperatures and humidities. Previously, it has been shown that glassy aqueous citric acid aerosol is able to nucleate ice heterogeneously under conditions relevant to cirrus in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL). In this study we test if glassy aerosol distributions with a range of chemical compositions heterogeneously nucleate ice under cirrus conditions. Three single component aqueous solution aerosols (raffinose, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy-DL-mandelic acid (HMMA) and levoglucosan) and one multi component aqueous solution aerosol (raffinose mixed with five dicarboxylic acids and ammonium sulphate) were studied in both the liquid and glassy states at a large cloud simulation chamber. The investigated organic compounds have similar functionality to oxidised organic material found in atmospheric aerosol and have estimated temperature/humidity induced glass transition thresholds that fall within the range predicted for atmospheric SOA. A small fraction of aerosol particles of all compositions were found to nucleate ice heterogeneously in the deposition mode at temperatures relevant to the TTL (<200 K). Raffinose and HMMA, which form glasses at higher temperatures, nucleated ice heterogeneously at temperatures as high as 214.6 and 218.5 K respectively. We present the calculated ice active surface site density, ns, of the aerosols tested here and also of glassy citric acid aerosol as a function of relative humidity with respect to ice (RHi). We also propose a parameterisation which can be used to estimate heterogeneous ice nucleation by glassy aerosol for use in cirrus cloud models up to ~220 K. Finally, we show that heterogeneous nucleation by glassy aerosol may compete with ice nucleation on mineral dust particles in mid-latitudes cirrus.

Final-revised paper