Ice nucleation by combustion ash particles at conditions relevant to mixed-phase clouds
- 1Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
- 2Escuela de Ingeniería Industrial de Toledo, Universidad de Castilla la Mancha, Avenida Carlos III s/n, Real Fábrica de Armas, 45071 Toledo, Spain
- 3Energy Research Institute/CFD Centre, Faculty of Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
- 4School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
Abstract. Ice-nucleating particles can modify cloud properties with implications for climate and the hydrological cycle; hence, it is important to understand which aerosol particle types nucleate ice and how efficiently they do so. It has been shown that aerosol particles such as natural dusts, volcanic ash, bacteria and pollen can act as ice-nucleating particles, but the ice-nucleating ability of combustion ashes has not been studied. Combustion ashes are major by-products released during the combustion of solid fuels and a significant amount of these ashes are emitted into the atmosphere either during combustion or via aerosolization of bottom ashes. Here, we show that combustion ashes (coal fly ash, wood bottom ash, domestic bottom ash, and coal bottom ash) nucleate ice in the immersion mode at conditions relevant to mixed-phase clouds. Hence, combustion ashes could play an important role in primary ice formation in mixed-phase clouds, especially in clouds that are formed near the emission source of these aerosol particles. In order to quantitatively assess the impact of combustion ashes on mixed-phase clouds, we propose that the atmospheric abundance of combustion ashes should be quantified since up to now they have mostly been classified together with mineral dust particles. Also, in reporting ice residue compositions, a distinction should be made between natural mineral dusts and combustion ashes in order to quantify the contribution of combustion ashes to atmospheric ice nucleation.