Leipzig Ice Nucleation chamber Comparison (LINC): intercomparison of four online ice nucleation counters
Abstract. Ice crystal formation in atmospheric clouds has a strong effect on precipitation, cloud lifetime, cloud radiative properties, and thus the global energy budget. Primary ice formation above 235 K is initiated by nucleation on seed aerosol particles called ice-nucleating particles (INPs). Instruments that measure the ice-nucleating potential of aerosol particles in the atmosphere need to be able to accurately quantify ambient INP concentrations. In the last decade several instruments have been developed to investigate the ice-nucleating properties of aerosol particles and to measure ambient INP concentrations. Therefore, there is a need for intercomparisons to ensure instrument differences are not interpreted as scientific findings.
In this study, we intercompare the results from parallel measurements using four online ice nucleation chambers. Seven different aerosol types are tested including untreated and acid-treated mineral dusts (microcline, which is a K-feldspar, and kaolinite), as well as birch pollen washing waters. Experiments exploring heterogeneous ice nucleation above and below water saturation are performed to cover the whole range of atmospherically relevant thermodynamic conditions that can be investigated with the intercompared chambers. The Leipzig Aerosol Cloud Interaction Simulator (LACIS) and the Portable Immersion Mode Cooling chAmber coupled to the Portable Ice Nucleation Chamber (PIMCA-PINC) performed measurements in the immersion freezing mode. Additionally, two continuous-flow diffusion chambers (CFDCs) PINC and the Spectrometer for Ice Nuclei (SPIN) are used to perform measurements below and just above water saturation, nominally presenting deposition nucleation and condensation freezing.
The results of LACIS and PIMCA-PINC agree well over the whole range of measured frozen fractions (FFs) and temperature. In general PINC and SPIN compare well and the observed differences are explained by the ice crystal growth and different residence times in the chamber. To study the mechanisms responsible for the ice nucleation in the four instruments, the FF (from LACIS and PIMCA-PINC) and the activated fraction, AF (from PINC and SPIN), are compared. Measured FFs are on the order of a factor of 3 higher than AFs, but are not consistent for all aerosol types and temperatures investigated. It is shown that measurements from CFDCs cannot be assumed to produce the same results as those instruments exclusively measuring immersion freezing. Instead, the need to apply a scaling factor to CFDCs operating above water saturation has to be considered to allow comparison with immersion freezing devices. Our results provide further awareness of factors such as the importance of dispersion methods and the quality of particle size selection for intercomparing online INP counters.