Articles | Volume 15, issue 21
Research article
10 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 10 Nov 2015

Ice nucleating particles at a coastal marine boundary layer site: correlations with aerosol type and meteorological conditions

R. H. Mason, M. Si, J. Li, C. Chou, R. Dickie, D. Toom-Sauntry, C. Pöhlker, J. D. Yakobi-Hancock, L. A. Ladino, K. Jones, W. R. Leaitch, C. L. Schiller, J. P. D. Abbatt, J. A. Huffman, and A. K. Bertram

Abstract. Information on what aerosol particle types are the major sources of ice nucleating particles (INPs) in the atmosphere is needed for climate predictions. To determine which aerosol particles are the major sources of immersion-mode INPs at a coastal site in Western Canada, we investigated correlations between INP number concentrations and both concentrations of different atmospheric particles and meteorological conditions. We show that INP number concentrations are strongly correlated with the number concentrations of fluorescent bioparticles between −15 and −25 °C, and that the size distribution of INPs is most consistent with the size distribution of fluorescent bioparticles. We conclude that biological particles were likely the major source of ice nuclei at freezing temperatures between −15 and −25 °C at this site for the time period studied. At −30 °C, INP number concentrations are also well correlated with number concentrations of the total aerosol particles ≥ 0.5 μm, suggesting that non-biological particles may have an important contribution to the population of INPs active at this temperature. As we found that black carbon particles were unlikely to be a major source of ice nuclei during this study, these non-biological INPs may include mineral dust. Furthermore, correlations involving chemical tracers of marine aerosols and marine biological activity, sodium and methanesulfonic acid, indicate that the majority of INPs measured at the coastal site likely originated from terrestrial rather than marine sources. Finally, six existing empirical parameterizations of ice nucleation were tested to determine if they accurately predict the measured INP number concentrations. We found that none of the parameterizations selected are capable of predicting INP number concentrations with high accuracy over the entire temperature range investigated. This finding illustrates that additional measurements are needed to improve parameterizations of INPs and their subsequent climatic impacts.

Final-revised paper