Estimation of cloud condensation nuclei number concentrations and comparison to in situ and lidar observations during the HOPE experiments


Atmospheric aerosol particles are the precondition for the formation of cloud droplets and therefore have large influence on the microphysical and radiative properties of clouds. In this work, four different methods to derive or measure number concentrations of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) were analyzed and compared for presentday aerosol conditions: (i) a model parameterization based on simulated particle concentrations, (ii) the same parameterization based on gravimetrical particle measurements, (iii) direct CCN measurements with a CCN counter, and (iv) lidarderived and in situ measured vertical CCN profiles. In order to allow for sensitivity studies of the anthropogenic impact, a scenario to estimate the maximum CCN concentration under peak aerosol conditions of the mid-1980s in Europe was developed as well. In general, the simulations are in good agreement with the observations. At ground level, average values between 0.7 and 1:5 × 109 CCNm-3 at a supersaturation of 0.2 % were found with the different methods under present-day conditions. The discrimination of the chemical species revealed an almost equal contribution of ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate to the total number of CCN for present-day conditions. This was not the case for the peak aerosol scenario, in which it was assumed that no ammonium nitrate was formed while large amounts of sulfate were present, consuming all available ammonia during ammonium sulfate formation. The CCN number concentration at five different supersaturation values has been compared to the measurements. The discrepancies between model and in situ observations were lowest for the lowest (0.1 %) and highest supersaturations (0.7 %). For supersaturations between 0.3 % and 0.5 %, the model overestimated the potentially activated particle fraction by around 30 %. By comparing the simulation with observed profiles, the vertical distribution of the CCN concentration was found to be overestimated by up to a factor of 2 in the boundary layer. The analysis of the modern (year 2013) and the peak aerosol scenario (expected to be representative of the mid-1980s over Europe) resulted in a scaling factor, which was defined as the quotient of the average vertical profile of the peak aerosol and present-day CCN concentration. This factor was found to be around 2 close to the ground, increasing to around 3.5 between 2 and 5 km and approaching 1 (i.e., no difference between present-day and peak aerosol conditions) with further increasing height. © 2020 Author(s).

aerosol, cloud condensation nucleus, comparative study, concentration (composition), in situ measurement, lidar, parameterization
Genz, C., Schrödner, R., Heinold, B., Henning, S., Baars, H., Spindler, G., & Tegen, I. (2020). Estimation of cloud condensation nuclei number concentrations and comparison to in situ and lidar observations during the HOPE experiments. 20(14).
CC BY 4.0 Unported