Articles | Volume 16, issue 2
Research article
19 Jan 2016
Research article |  | 19 Jan 2016

Aerosol properties, source identification, and cloud processing in orographic clouds measured by single particle mass spectrometry on a central European mountain site during HCCT-2010

A. Roth, J. Schneider, T. Klimach, S. Mertes, D. van Pinxteren, H. Herrmann, and S. Borrmann

Abstract. Cloud residues and out-of-cloud aerosol particles with diameters between 150 and 900 nm were analysed by online single particle aerosol mass spectrometry during the 6-week study Hill Cap Cloud Thuringia (HCCT)-2010 in September–October 2010. The measurement location was the mountain Schmücke (937 m a.s.l.) in central Germany. More than 160 000 bipolar mass spectra from out-of-cloud aerosol particles and more than 13 000 bipolar mass spectra from cloud residual particles were obtained and were classified using a fuzzy c-means clustering algorithm. Analysis of the uncertainty of the sorting algorithm was conducted on a subset of the data by comparing the clustering output with particle-by-particle inspection and classification by the operator. This analysis yielded a false classification probability between 13 and 48 %. Additionally, particle types were identified by specific marker ions.

The results from the ambient aerosol analysis show that 63 % of the analysed particles belong to clusters having a diurnal variation, suggesting that local or regional sources dominate the aerosol, especially for particles containing soot and biomass burning particles. In the cloud residues, the relative percentage of large soot-containing particles and particles containing amines was found to be increased compared to the out-of-cloud aerosol, while, in general, organic particles were less abundant in the cloud residues. In the case of amines, this can be explained by the high solubility of the amines, while the large soot-containing particles were found to be internally mixed with inorganics, which explains their activation as cloud condensation nuclei. Furthermore, the results show that during cloud processing, both sulfate and nitrate are added to the residual particles, thereby changing the mixing state and increasing the fraction of particles with nitrate and/or sulfate. This is expected to lead to higher hygroscopicity after cloud evaporation, and therefore to an increase of the particles' ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei after their cloud passage.

Short summary
This paper reports on single-particle measurements of ambient aerosol particles and cloud residues sampled from orographic clouds on a mountain site in central Germany. The results show that soot particles can get efficiently activated in cloud droplets when they are mixed with or coated by sulfate and nitrate. Cloud processing leads to addition of nitrate and sulfate to the particles, thereby increasing the hygroscopicity of these particles when they remain in the air after cloud evaporation.
Final-revised paper