Technical note: New particle formation event forecasts during PEGASOS–Zeppelin Northern mission 2013 in Hyytiälä, Finland
Abstract. New particle formation (NPF) occurs frequently in the global atmosphere. During recent years, detailed laboratory experiments combined with intensive field observations in different locations have provided insights into the vapours responsible for the initial formation of particles and their subsequent growth. In this regard, the importance of sulfuric acid, stabilizing bases such as ammonia and amines as well as extremely low volatile organics, have been proposed. The instrumentation to observe freshly formed aerosol particles has developed to a stage where the instruments can be implemented as part of airborne platforms, such as aircrafts or a Zeppelin-type airship. Flight measurements are technically more demanding and require a greater detail of planning than field studies at the ground level. The high cost of flight hours, limited time available during a single research flight for the measurements, and different instrument payloads in Zeppelin airship for various flight missions demanded an analysis tool that would forecast whether or not there is a good chance for an NPF event. Here we present a methodology to forecast NPF event probability at the SMEAR II site in Hyytiälä, Finland. This methodology was used to optimize flight hours during the PEGASOS (Pan-European Gas Aerosol Climate Interaction Study)–Zeppelin Northern mission in May–June 2013. Based on the existing knowledge, we derived a method for estimating the nucleation probability that utilizes forecast air mass trajectories, weather forecasts, and air quality model predictions. With the forecast tool we were able to predict the occurrence of NPF events for the next day with more than 90 % success rate (10 out of 11 NPF event days correctly predicted). To our knowledge, no similar forecasts of NPF occurrence have been developed for other sites. This method of forecasting NPF occurrence could be applied also at other locations, provided that long-term observations of conditions favouring particle formation are available.