Articles | Volume 16, issue 16
Research article
17 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 17 Aug 2016

In-cloud measurements highlight the role of aerosol hygroscopicity in cloud droplet formation

Olli Väisänen, Antti Ruuskanen, Arttu Ylisirniö, Pasi Miettinen, Harri Portin, Liqing Hao, Ari Leskinen, Mika Komppula, Sami Romakkaniemi, Kari E. J. Lehtinen, and Annele Virtanen

Abstract. The relationship between aerosol hygroscopicity and cloud droplet activation was studied at the Puijo measurement station in Kuopio, Finland, during the autumn 2014. The hygroscopic growth of 80, 120 and 150  nm particles was measured at 90 % relative humidity with a hygroscopic tandem differential mobility analyzer. Typically, the growth factor (GF) distributions appeared bimodal with clearly distinguishable peaks around 1.0–1.1 and 1.4–1.6. However, the relative contribution of the two modes appeared highly variable reflecting the probable presence of fresh anthropogenic particle emissions. The hygroscopicity-dependent activation properties were estimated in a case study comprising four separate cloud events with varying characteristics. At 120 and 150 nm, the activation efficiencies within the low- and high-GF modes varied between 0–34 and 57–83 %, respectively, indicating that the less hygroscopic particles remained mostly non-activated, whereas the more hygroscopic mode was predominantly scavenged into cloud droplets. By modifying the measured GF distributions, it was estimated how the cloud droplet concentrations would change if all the particles belonged to the more hygroscopic group. According to κ-Köhler simulations, the cloud droplet concentrations increased up to 70 % when the possible feedback effects on effective peak supersaturation (between 0.16 and 0.29 %) were assumed negligible. This is an indirect but clear illustration of the sensitivity of cloud formation to aerosol chemical composition.

Short summary
In-cloud measurements of aerosol hygroscopicity and cloud droplet activation were conducted in Kuopio, Finland. According to the observations, the less hygroscopic accumulation mode particles were present in the non-activated aerosol, whereas the more hygroscopic particles were scavenged into cloud droplets. The results illustrate the sensitivity of cloud droplet formation to varying chemical composition and highlight the need for proper treatment of anthropogenic aerosols in CCN predictions.
Final-revised paper