Articles | Volume 13, issue 20
Research article
23 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 23 Oct 2013

The analysis of size-segregated cloud condensation nuclei counter (CCNC) data and its implications for cloud droplet activation

M. Paramonov, P. P. Aalto, A. Asmi, N. Prisle, V.-M. Kerminen, M. Kulmala, and T. Petäjä

Abstract. Ambient aerosol, CCN (cloud condensation nuclei) and hygroscopic properties were measured with a size-segregated CCNC (cloud condensation nuclei counter) in a boreal environment of southern Finland at the SMEAR (Station for Measuring Ecosystem-Atmosphere Relations) II station. The instrumental setup operated at five levels of supersaturation S covering a range from 0.1–1% and measured particles with a size range of 20–300 nm; a total of 29 non-consecutive months of data are presented. The median critical diameter Dc ranged from 150 nm at S of 0.1% to 46 nm at S of 1.0%. The median aerosol hygroscopicity parameter κ ranged from 0.41 at S of 0.1% to 0.14 at S of 1.0%, indicating that ambient aerosol in Hyytiälä is less hygroscopic than the global continental or European continental averages. It is, however, more hygroscopic than the ambient aerosol in an Amazon rainforest, a European high Alpine site or a forested mountainous site. A fairly low hygroscopicity in Hyytiälä is likely a result of a large organic fraction present in the aerosol mass comparative to other locations within Europe. A considerable difference in particle hygroscopicity was found between particles smaller and larger than ~100 nm in diameter, possibly pointing out to the effect of cloud processing increasing κ of particles > 100 nm in diameter. The hygroscopicity of the smaller, ~50 nm particles did not change seasonally, whereas particles with a diameter of ~150 nm showed a decreased hygroscopicity in the summer, likely resulting from the increased VOC emissions of the surrounding boreal forest and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation. For the most part, no diurnal patterns of aerosol hygroscopic properties were found. Exceptions to this were the weak diurnal patterns of small, ~50 nm particles in the spring and summer, when a peak in hygroscopicity around noon was observed. No difference in CCN activation and hygroscopic properties was found on days with or without atmospheric new particle formation. During all seasons, except summer, a CCN-inactive fraction was found to be present, rendering the aerosol of 75–300 nm in diameter as internally mixed in the summer and not internally mixed for the rest of the year.

Final-revised paper