The efficiency of secondary organic aerosol particles acting as ice-nucleating particles under mixed-phase cloud conditions
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Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles have been found to be efficient ice-nucleating particles under the cold conditions of (tropical) upper-tropospheric cirrus clouds. Whether they also are efficient at initiating freezing under slightly warmer conditions as found in mixed-phase clouds remains undetermined. Here, we study the ice-nucleating ability of photochemically produced SOA particles with the combination of the Manchester Aerosol Chamber and Manchester Ice Cloud Chamber. Three SOA systems were tested resembling biogenic and anthropogenic particles as well as particles of different phase state. These are namely α-pinene, heptadecane, and 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene. After the aerosol particles were formed, they were transferred into the cloud chamber, where subsequent quasi-adiabatic cloud activation experiments were performed. Additionally, the ice-forming abilities of ammonium sulfate and kaolinite were investigated as a reference to test the experimental setup.
Clouds were formed in the temperature range of −20 to −28.6 °C. Only the reference experiment using dust particles showed evidence of ice nucleation. No ice particles were observed in any other experiment. Thus, we conclude that SOA particles produced under the conditions of the reported experiments are not efficient ice-nucleating particles starting at liquid saturation under mixed-phase cloud conditions.