Vertical profiling of aerosol particles and trace gases over the central Arctic Ocean during summer
Abstract. Unique measurements of vertical size-resolved aerosol particle concentrations, trace gas concentrations and meteorological data were obtained during the Arctic Summer Cloud Ocean Study (ASCOS, www.ascos.se), an International Polar Year project aimed at establishing the processes responsible for formation and evolution of low-level clouds over the high Arctic summer pack ice. The experiment was conducted from on board the Swedish icebreaker Oden, and provided both ship- and helicopter-based measurements. This study focuses on the vertical helicopter profiles and onboard measurements obtained during a three-week period when Oden was anchored to a drifting ice floe, and sheds light on the characteristics of Arctic aerosol particles and their distribution throughout the lower atmosphere.
Distinct differences in aerosol particle characteristics within defined atmospheric layers are identified. Within the lowermost couple hundred metres, transport from the marginal ice zone (MIZ), condensational growth and cloud processing develop the aerosol population. During two of the four representative periods defined in this study, such influence is shown. At altitudes above about 1 km, long-range transport occurs frequently. However, only infrequently does large-scale subsidence descend such air masses to become entrained into the mixed layer in the high Arctic, and therefore long-range transport plumes are unlikely to directly influence low-level stratiform cloud formation. Nonetheless, such plumes can influence the radiative balance of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) by influencing formation and evolution of higher clouds, as well as through precipitation transport of particles downwards. New particle formation was occasionally observed, particularly in the near-surface layer. We hypothesize that the origin of these ultrafine particles could be in biological processes, both primary and secondary, within the open leads between the pack ice and/or along the MIZ. In general, local sources, in combination with upstream boundary-layer transport of precursor gases from the MIZ, are considered to constitute the origin of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) particles and thus be of importance for the formation of interior Arctic low-level clouds during summer, and subsequently, through cloud influences, for the melting and freezing of sea ice.