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

Iodine observed in new particle formation events in the Arctic atmosphere during ACCACIA

J. D. Allan, P. I. Williams, J. Najera, J. D. Whitehead, M. J. Flynn, J. W. Taylor, D. Liu, E. Darbyshire, L. J. Carpenter, R. Chance, S. J. Andrews, S. C. Hackenberg, and G. McFiggans

Abstract. Accurately accounting for new particle formation (NPF) is crucial to our ability to predict aerosol number concentrations in many environments and thus cloud properties, which is in turn vital in simulating radiative transfer and climate. Here we present an analysis of NPF events observed in the Greenland Sea during the summertime as part of the Aerosol-Cloud Coupling And Climate Interactions in the Arctic (ACCACIA) project. While NPF events have been reported in the Arctic before, we were able, for the first time, to detect iodine in the growing particles using an Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS) during a persistent event in the region of the coastal sea-ice near Greenland. Given the potency of iodine as a nucleation precursor, the results imply that iodine was responsible for the initial NPF, a phenomenon that has been reported at lower latitudes and associated with molecular iodine emissions from coastal macroalgae. The initial source of iodine in this instance is not clear, but it was associated with air originating approximately 1 day previously over melting coastal sea-ice. These results show that atmospheric models must consider iodine as a source of new particles in addition to established precursors such as sulfur compounds.

Short summary
New particle formation (NPF) is an important contributor to aerosol number concentrations in the Arctic and thus has a major role in dictating cloud properties and climate in this region. Here we present direct evidence that the oxidation of iodine in the atmosphere causes NPF in the Greenland Sea. This is important because this is a NPF mechanism that has not previously been considered in modelling studies at these latitudes.
Final-revised paper