19 Apr 2021

19 Apr 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Heterogeneous ice nucleation ability of aerosol particles generated from Arctic sea surface microlayer and surface seawater samples at cirrus temperatures

Robert Wagner1, Luisa Ickes2, Allan K. Bertram3, Nora Els4, Elena Gorokhova5, Ottmar Möhler1, Benjamin J. Murray6, Nsikanabasi Silas Umo1, and Matthew E. Salter5 Robert Wagner et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 3Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • 4Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 5Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry & Bolin Centre for Climate Studies, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 6School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom

Abstract. Sea spray aerosol particles are a recognised type of ice-nucleating particles under mixed-phase cloud conditions. Entities that are responsible for the heterogeneous ice nucleation ability include intact or fragmented cells of marine microorganisms as well as organic matter released by cell exudation. Only a small fraction of sea salt aerosol is transported to the upper troposphere, but there are indications from mass-spectrometric analyses of the residuals of sublimated cirrus particles that sea salt could also contribute to heterogeneous ice nucleation under cirrus conditions. Experimental studies on the heterogeneous ice nucleation ability of sea spray aerosol particles and their proxies at temperatures below 235 K are still scarce. In our article, we summarise previous measurements and present a new set of ice nucleation experiments at cirrus temperatures with particles generated from sea surface microlayer and surface seawater samples collected in three different regions of the Arctic and from a laboratory-grown diatom culture (Skeletonema marinoi). The particles were suspended in a large cloud chamber and ice formation was induced by expansion cooling. We confirmed that under cirrus conditions, apart from the ice-nucleating entities mentioned above, also crystalline inorganic salt constituents can contribute to heterogeneous ice formation. This takes place at temperatures below 220 K, where we observed in all experiments a strong immersion freezing mode due to the only partially deliquesced inorganic salts. The inferred ice nucleation active surface site densities for this nucleation mode reached a maximum of about 5·1010 m−2 at an ice saturation ratio of 1.3. Much smaller densities in the range of 108–109 m−2 were observed at temperatures between 220 and 235 K, where the inorganic salts fully deliquesced and only the organic matter and/or algal cells and cell debris could contribute to heterogeneous ice formation. These values are two orders of magnitude smaller than those previously reported for particles generated from microlayer suspensions collected in temperate and subtropical zones. While this difference might simply underline the strong variability of the amount of ice-nucleating entities in the sea surface microlayer across different geographical regions, we also discuss how far instrumental parameters like the aerosolisation method and the ice-nucleation measurement technique might affect the comparability of the results amongst different studies.

Robert Wagner et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-252', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Response to Referee #1', Robert Wagner, 22 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2021-252', Luis Antonio Ladino, 06 Jun 2021

Robert Wagner et al.

Robert Wagner et al.


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Short summary
Sea spray aerosol particles are a mixture of inorganic salts and organic matter from phytoplankton organisms. At low temperatures in the upper troposphere, both inorganic and organic constituents can induce the formation of ice crystals and thereby impact cloud properties and climate. In this study, we performed experiments in a cloud simulation chamber with particles produced from Arctic seawater samples to quantify the relative contribution of inorganic and organic species in ice formation.