Articles | Volume 16, issue 14
Research article
25 Jul 2016
Research article |  | 25 Jul 2016

Ice nucleating particles in the Saharan Air Layer

Yvonne Boose, Berko Sierau, M. Isabel García, Sergio Rodríguez, Andrés Alastuey, Claudia Linke, Martin Schnaiter, Piotr Kupiszewski, Zamin A. Kanji, and Ulrike Lohmann

Abstract. This study aims at quantifying the ice nucleation properties of desert dust in the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), the warm, dry and dust-laden layer that expands from North Africa to the Americas. By measuring close to the dust's emission source, before aging processes during the transatlantic advection potentially modify the dust properties, the study fills a gap between in situ measurements of dust ice nucleating particles (INPs) far away from the Sahara and laboratory studies of ground-collected soil. Two months of online INP concentration measurements are presented, which were part of the two CALIMA campaigns at the Izaña observatory in Tenerife, Spain (2373 m a.s.l.), in the summers of 2013 and 2014. INP concentrations were measured in the deposition and condensation mode at temperatures between 233 and 253 K with the Portable Ice Nucleation Chamber (PINC). Additional aerosol information such as bulk chemical composition, concentration of fluorescent biological particles as well as the particle size distribution was used to investigate observed variations in the INP concentration.

The concentration of INPs was found to range between 0.2 std L−1 in the deposition mode and up to 2500 std L−1 in the condensation mode at 240 K. It correlates well with the abundance of aluminum, iron, magnesium and manganese (R: 0.43–0.67) and less with that of calcium, sodium or carbonate. These observations are consistent with earlier results from laboratory studies which showed a higher ice nucleation efficiency of certain feldspar and clay minerals compared to other types of mineral dust. We find that an increase of ammonium sulfate, linked to anthropogenic emissions in upwind distant anthropogenic sources, mixed with the desert dust has a small positive effect on the condensation mode INP per dust mass ratio but no effect on the deposition mode INP. Furthermore, the relative abundance of biological particles was found to be significantly higher in INPs compared to the ambient aerosol. Overall, this suggests that atmospheric aging processes in the SAL can lead to an increase in ice nucleation ability of mineral dust from the Sahara. INP concentrations predicted with two common parameterization schemes, which were derived mostly from atmospheric measurements far away from the Sahara but influenced by Asian and Saharan dust, were found to be higher based on the aerosol load than we observed in the SAL, further suggesting aging effects of INPs in the SAL.

Short summary
Mineral dust is known to be among the most prevalent ice-nucleating particles (INPs) in the atmosphere, playing a crucial role for ice cloud formation. We present 2 months of ground-based in situ measurements of INP concentrations in the free troposphere close to the largest global dust source, the Sahara. We find that some atmospheric processes such as mixing with biological particles and ammonium increase the dust INP ability. This is important when predicting INPs based on emissions.
Final-revised paper