Contact freezing: a review of experimental studies
- 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092, Zurich, Switzerland
- *now at: the Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Abstract. This manuscript compiles both theoretical and experimental information on contact freezing with the aim to better understand this potentially important but still not well quantified heterogeneous freezing mode. There is no complete theory that describes contact freezing and how the energy barrier has to be overcome to nucleate an ice crystal by contact freezing. Experiments on contact freezing conducted using the cold plate technique indicate that it can initiate ice formation at warmer temperatures than immersion freezing. Additionally, a qualitative difference in the freezing temperatures between contact and immersion freezing has been found using different instrumentation and different ice nuclei. There is a lack of data on collision rates in most of the reported data, which inhibits a quantitative calculation of the freezing efficiencies. Thus, new or modified instrumentation to study contact nucleation in the laboratory and in the field are needed to identify the conditions at which contact nucleation could occur in the atmosphere. Important questions concerning contact freezing and its potential role for ice cloud formation and climate are also summarized.