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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  16 Jun 2020

16 Jun 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Ship-based measurements of ice nuclei concentrations over the Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Ocean

André Welti1,6, E. Keith Bigg5, Paul J. DeMott3, Xianda Gong1, Markus Hartmann1, Mike Harvey8, Silvia Henning1, Paul Herenz1, Thomas C. J. Hill3, Blake Hornblow9, Caroline Leck4, Mareike Löffler1,7, Christina S. McCluskey3,10, Anne Marie Rauker3, Julia Schmale2,11, Christian Tatzelt1, Manuela van Pinxteren1, and Frank Stratmann1 André Welti et al.
  • 1Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
  • 4Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 5Elanora Heights NSW, Australia
  • 6Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 7Deutscher Wetterdienst, Centre for Agrometeorological Research, Braunschweig, Germany
  • 8National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand
  • 9NIWA – Blake Ambassador (, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 10National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 11School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract. Ambient concentrations of ice-forming particles measured during ship expeditions are collected and summarized with the aim of establishing a spatial distribution and variability of ice nuclei in oceanic regions. The presented data from literature and previously unpublished data from over 23 months of ship-based measurements stretch from the Arctic to the Southern Ocean and include a circumnavigation of Antarctica. In comparison to continental observations, ship-based measurements of ambient ice nuclei show one to two order of magnitude lower mean concentrations. To quantify the geographical variability in oceanic areas, the concentration range of potential ice nuclei in different climate zones is analysed by meridionally dividing the expedition tracks into: tropical, temperate and polar climate zones. We find that concentrations of ice nuclei in these meridional zones follow temperature spectra with similar slope, but vary in absolute concentration. Typically, the frequency with which specific concentrations of ice nuclei are observed at a certain temperature follows a log-normal distribution. A consequence of the log-normal distribution is that the mean concentration is higher than the most frequently measured concentration. Finally, the potential contribution of ship exhaust to the measured ice nuclei concentration on board of research-vessels is analysed as function of temperature. We find a sharp onset of the influence at approximately −36 °C, but none at warmer temperatures that could bias ship-based measurements.

André Welti et al.

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André Welti et al.

André Welti et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Ship-based measurements of maritime ice nuclei concentrations encompassing all oceans are compiled. From this overview it is found that maritime ice nuclei concentrations are typically 10–100 times lower than over continents, while concentrations are surprisingly similar in different oceanic regions. The analysis of the influence of ship emissions shows no effect on the data, making ship-based measurements an efficient strategy for the large-scale exploration of ice nuclei concentrations.
Ship-based measurements of maritime ice nuclei concentrations encompassing all oceans are...