Articles | Volume 17, issue 22
Research article
20 Nov 2017
Research article |  | 20 Nov 2017

Features in air ions measured by an air ion spectrometer (AIS) at Dome C

Xuemeng Chen, Aki Virkkula, Veli-Matti Kerminen, Hanna E. Manninen, Maurizio Busetto, Christian Lanconelli, Angelo Lupi, Vito Vitale, Massimo Del Guasta, Paolo Grigioni, Riikka Väänänen, Ella-Maria Duplissy, Tuukka Petäjä, and Markku Kulmala

Abstract. An air ion spectrometer (AIS) was deployed for the first time at the Concordia station at Dome C (75°06′ S, 123°23′ E; 3220 m a. s. l. ), Antarctica during the period 22 December 2010–16 November 2011 for measuring the number size distribution of air ions. In this work, we present results obtained from this air ion data set together with aerosol particle and meteorological data. The main processes that modify the number size distribution of air ions during the measurement period at this high-altitude site included new particle formation (NPF, observed on 85 days), wind-induced ion formation (observed on 36 days), and ion production and loss associated with cloud/fog formation (observed on 2 days). For the subset of days when none of these processes seemed to operate, the concentrations of cluster ions (0.9–1.9 nm) exhibited a clear seasonality, with high concentrations in the warm months and low concentrations in the cold. Compared to event-free days, days with NPF were observed with higher cluster ion concentrations. A number of NPF events were observed with restricted growth below 10 nm, which were termed as suppressed NPF. There was another distinct feature, namely a simultaneous presence of two or three separate NPF and subsequent growth events, which were named as multi-mode NPF events. Growth rates (GRs) were determined using two methods: the appearance time method and the mode fitting method. The former method seemed to have advantages in characterizing NPF events with a fast GR, whereas the latter method is more suitable when the GR was slow. The formation rate of 2 nm positive ions (J2+) was calculated for all the NPF events for which a GR in the 2–3 nm size range could be determined. On average, J2+ was about 0.014 cm−3 s−1. The ion production in relation to cloud/fog formation in the size range of 8–42 nm seemed to be a unique feature at Dome C, which has not been reported elsewhere. These ions may, however, either be multiply charged particles but detected as singly charged in the AIS, or be produced inside the instrument, due to the breakage of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), possibly related to the instrumental behaviour under the extremely cold condition. For the wind-induced ion formation, our observations suggest that the ions originated more likely from atmospheric nucleation of vapours released from the snow than from mechanical charging of shattered snow flakes and ice crystals.

Short summary
An air ion spectrometer was deployed for characterizing air ions for the first time at the Concordia station at Dome C on the Antarctic Plateau. We observed different ion processes: new particle formation (NPF), wind-induced ion production, and ion formation related to cloud and/or fog formation. Insights into these phenomena are presented. Additionally, the analysis on the growth of NPF events showed a size dependency of growth rates (GRs), i.e. GRs increase with particle sizes.
Final-revised paper