Airborne measurements of nucleation mode particles I: coastal nucleation and growth rates
Abstract. A light aircraft was equipped with a bank of Condensation Particle Counters (CPCs) (50% cut from 3–5.4–9.6 nm) and a nano-Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (nSMPS) and deployed along the west coast of Ireland, in the vicinity of Mace Head. The objective of the exercise was to provide high resolution micro-physical measurements of the coastal nucleation mode in order to map the spatial extent of new particle production regions and to evaluate the evolution, and associated growth rates of the coastal nucleation-mode aerosol plume. Results indicate that coastal new particle production is occurring over most areas along the land-sea interface with peak concentrations at the coastal plume-head in excess of 106 cm−3. Pseudo-Lagrangian studies of the coastal plume evolution illustrated significant growth of new particles to sizes in excess of 8 nm approximately 10 km downwind of the source region. Close to the plume head (<1 km) growth rates can be as high as 123–171 nm h−1, decreasing gradually to 53–72 nm h−1 at 3 km. Further along the plume, at distances up to 10 km, the growth rates are calculated to be 17–32 nm h−1. Growth rates of this magnitude suggest that after a couple of hours, coastal nucleation mode particles can reach significant sizes where they can contribution to the regional aerosol loading.