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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-524
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-524
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  22 Jun 2020

22 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Towards parametrising atmospheric concentrations of ice nucleating particles active at moderate supercooling

Claudia Mignani1, Jörg Wieder2, Michael A. Sprenger2, Zamin A. Kanji2, Jan Henneberger2, Christine Alewell1, and Franz Conen1 Claudia Mignani et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Bernoullistrasse 30, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. A small fraction of freezing cloud droplets probably initiates much of the precipitation above continents. Only a minute fraction of aerosol particles, so-called ice nucleating particles (INPs), can trigger initial ice formation at −15 °C, a cloud-top temperature frequently associated with snowfall. We found at a mountain top site in the Swiss Alps that concentrations of INPs active at −15 °C are different functions of coarse (> 2 μm) aerosol particle concentrations, depending on whether an air mass is precipitating, non-precipitating, or carrying Saharan dust and non-precipitating. Consequently, we suggest that a parameterisation at moderate supercooling should consider coarse particles in combination with air mass differentiation.

Claudia Mignani et al.

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Claudia Mignani et al.

Claudia Mignani et al.

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Short summary
Most precipitation above land starts with ice in clouds. It is promoted by extremely rare particles. Some ice nucleating particles (INPs) cause cloud droplets to freeze already above −15 °C, a temperature at which many clouds begin to snow. We found the abundance of such INPs among other particles of similar size is highest in precipitating air masses and lowest when air carries desert dust. This finding brings us closer to understanding the interactions between land, clouds, and precipitation.
Most precipitation above land starts with ice in clouds. It is promoted by extremely rare...
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