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2009
Sullivan, RC, Moore MJK, Petters MD, Kreidenweis SM, Roberts GC, Prather KA.  2009.  Effect of chemical mixing state on the hygroscopicity and cloud nucleation properties of calcium mineral dust particles. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 9:3303-3316.   10.5194/acp-9-3303-2009   AbstractWebsite

Atmospheric mineral dust particles can alter cloud properties and thus climate by acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) that form cloud droplets. The CCN activation properties of various calcium mineral dust particles were studied experimentally to investigate the consequences of field observations showing the segregation of sulphate from nitrate and chloride between individual aged Asian dust particles, and the enrichment of oxalic acid in Asian dust. Each mineral's observed apparent hygroscopicity was primarily controlled by its solubility, which determines the degree to which the mineral's intrinsic hygroscopicity can be expressed. The significant increase in hygroscopicity caused by mixing soluble hygroscopic material with insoluble mineral particles is also presented. Insoluble minerals including calcium carbonate, representing fresh unprocessed dust, and calcium sulphate, representing atmospherically processed dust, had similarly small apparent hygroscopicities. Their activation is accurately described by a deliquescence limit following the Kelvin effect and corresponded to an apparent single-hygroscopicity parameter, kappa, of similar to 0.001. Soluble calcium chloride and calcium nitrate, representing atmospherically processed mineral dust particles, were much more hygroscopic, activating similar to ammonium sulphate with kappa similar to 0.5. Calcium oxalate monohydrate (kappa=0.05) was significantly less CCN-active than oxalic acid (kappa=0.3), but not as inactive as its low solubility would predict. These results indicate that the common assumption that all mineral dust particles become more hygroscopic and CCN-active after atmospheric processing should be revisited. Calcium sulphate and calcium oxalate are two realistic proxies for aged mineral dust that remain non-hygroscopic. The dust's apparent hygroscopicity will be controlled by its chemical mixing state, which is determined by its mineralogy and the chemical reaction pathways it experiences during transport.

2006
Roberts, G, Mauger G, Hadley O, Ramanathan V.  2006.  North American and Asian aerosols over the eastern Pacific Ocean and their role in regulating cloud condensation nuclei. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 111   10.1029/2005jd006661   AbstractWebsite

[ 1] Measurements of aerosol and cloud properties in the Eastern Pacific Ocean were taken during an airborne experiment on the University of Wyoming's King Air during April 2004 as part of the Cloud Indirect Forcing Experiment (CIFEX). We observed a wide variety of aerosols, including those of long-range transport from Asia, clean marine boundary layer, and North American emissions. These aerosols, classified by their size distribution and history, were found in stratified layers between 500 to 7500 m above sea level and thicknesses from 100 to 3000 m. A comparison of the aerosol size distributions to measurements of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) provides insight to the CCN activity of the different aerosol types. The overall ratio of measured to predicted CCN concentration (NCCN) is 0.56 +/- 0.41 with a relationship of N-CCN,N- measured = N-CCN, predicted(0.846 +/- 0.002) for 23 research flights and 1884 comparisons. Such a relationship does not accurately describe a CCN closure; however, it is consistent with our measurements that high CCN concentrations are more influenced by anthropogenic sources, which are less CCN active. While other CCN closures have obtained results closer to the expected 1: 1 relationship, the different aerosol types ( and presumably differences in aerosol chemistry) are responsible for the discrepancy. The measured N-CCN at 0.3% supersaturation (S-c) ranged from 20 cm(-3) (pristine) to 350 cm(-3) ( anthropogenic) with an average of 106 +/- 54 cm(-3) over the experiment. The inferred supersaturation in the clouds sampled during this experiment is similar to 0.3%. CCN concentrations of cloud-processed aerosol were well predicted using an ammonium sulfate approximation for S-c <= 0.4%. Predicted N-CCN for other aerosol types (i.e., Asian and North American aerosols) were high compared to measured values indicating a less CCN active aerosol. This study highlights the importance of chemical effects on CCN measurements and introduces a CCN activation index as a method of classifying the efficiency of an aerosol to serve as CCN relative to an ammonium sulfate particle. This index ranged from close to unity for cloud processed aerosols to as low as 0.31 for aged aerosols transported from Asia. We also compare the performance of two CCN instruments ( static thermal diffusion chamber and streamwise continuous flow chamber) on a 45 minute level leg where we observe an aged layer and a nucleation event. More than 50% of the aged aerosol served as CCN at 0.2% S-c, primarily owing to their large size, while CCN concentrations during the nucleation event were close to 0 cm(-3). CCN concentrations from both instruments agreed within instrument errors; however, the continuous flow chamber effectively captured the rapid transition in aerosol properties.

2005
Roberts, GC, Nenes A.  2005.  A continuous-flow streamwise thermal-gradient CCN chamber for atmospheric measurements. Aerosol Science and Technology. 39:206-221.   10.1080/027868290913988   AbstractWebsite

We have addressed the need for improved measurements of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) by developing a continuous-flow instrument that provides in situ measurements of CCN. The design presented in this article can operate between 0.1 and 3% supersaturation, at sampling rates sufficient for airborne operation. The design constitutes a cylindrical continuous-flow thermal-gradient diffusion chamber employing a novel technique of generating a supersaturation: by establishing a constant streamwise temperature gradient so that the difference in water vapor and thermal diffusivity yield a quasi-uniform centerline supersaturation. Our design maximizes the growth rate of activated droplets, thereby enhancing the performance of the instrument. The temperature gradient and the flow through the column control the supersaturation and may be modified to retrieve CCN spectra. The principle of the CCN instrument was validated in controlled laboratory experiments at different operating conditions using a monodisperse aerosols with known composition and size. These experiments yield sharp activation curves, even for those kinetically limited particles that have not exceeded their critical diameter. The performance of the CCN instrument was also assessed using polydisperse laboratory-generated aerosol of known composition and size distributions similar to ambient particulate matter. In all tests, the measured CCN concentrations compared well with predicted values and highlight the instrument's ability to measure CCN at various size distributions. The full potential of the new design has yet to be explored; however, model simulations suggest that direct measurements in the climatically important range of supersaturations of less than 0.1% (certainly down to 0.07%) are possible. The new instrument clearly offers a unique level of design simplicity, robustness, and flexilibity (temperature control, large range of supersaturations without flow reversal, and multiple configurations for same supersaturation) necessary for atmospheric studies.

2003
Roberts, GC, Nenes A, Seinfeld JH, Andreae MO.  2003.  Impact of biomass burning on cloud properties in the Amazon Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 108   10.1029/2001jd000985   AbstractWebsite

[1] We used a one-dimensional (1-D) cloud parcel model to assess the impact of biomass-burning aerosol on cloud properties in the Amazon Basin and to identify the physical and chemical properties of the aerosol that influence droplet growth. Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) measurements were performed between 0.15% and 1.5% supersaturation at ground-based sites in the states of Amazonas and Rondonia, Brazil during several field campaigns in 1998 and 1999 as part of the Large-Scale Biosphere - Atmosphere (LBA) Experiment in Amazonia. CCN concentrations measured during the wet season were low and resembled concentrations more typical of marine conditions than most continental sites. During the dry season, smoke aerosol from biomass burning dramatically increased CCN concentrations. The modification of cloud properties, such as cloud droplet effective radius and maximum supersaturation, is most sensitive at low CCN concentrations. Hence, we could expect larger interannual variation of cloud properties during the wet season that the dry season. We found that differences between CCN spectra from forested and deforested regions during the wet season are modest and result in modifications of cloud properties that are small compared to those between wet and dry seasons. Our study suggests that the differences in surface albedo, rather than cloud albedo, between forested and deforested regions may dominate the impact of deforestation on the hydrological cycle and convective activity during the wet season. During the dry season, on the other hand, cloud droplet concentrations may increase by up to 7 times, which leads to a model-predicted decrease in cloud effective radius by a factor of 2. This could imply a maximum indirect radiative forcing due to aerosol as high as ca. -27 W m(-2) for a nonabsorbing cloud. Light-absorbing substances in smoke darken the Amazonian clouds and reduce the net radiative forcing, and a comparison of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) analysis and our modeling studies suggests that absorption of sunlight due to smoke aerosol may compensate for about half of the maximum aerosol effect. Sensitivity tests show that complete characterization of the aerosol is necessary when kinetic growth limitations become important. Subtle differences in the chemical and physical makeup are shown to be particularly influential in the activation and growth behavior of the aerosol. Knowledge of the CCN spectrum alone is not sufficient to fully capture the climatic influence of biomass burning.

2002
Roberts, GC, Artaxo P, Zhou JC, Swietlicki E, Andreae MO.  2002.  Sensitivity of CCN spectra on chemical and physical properties of aerosol: A case study from the Amazon Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 107   10.1029/2001jd000583   AbstractWebsite

Organic material, about half of which is water soluble, constitutes nearly 80% of the wet-season aerosol mass in the Amazon Basin, while soluble inorganic salts (predominantly ammonium bisulfate) represent about 15%. A detailed analysis of number distributions and the size-dependent chemical composition of the aerosol indicates that, in principle, the sulfate fraction could account for most of the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity. Uncertainty about the chemical speciation of the water-soluble organic component precludes a rigorous analysis of its contribution to nucleation activity. Within reasonable assumptions, we can, however, predict a similar contribution of the organic component to CCN activity as that from sulfate. Because of the nonlinear dependence of droplet nucleation behavior on solute amount, the nucleation activity cannot be attributed uniquely to the inorganic or organic fractions. The role of water-soluble organic compounds as surfactants, however, may be significant (especially in the case of biomass-burning aerosol) and more field measurements are needed to quantify their effects on the surface tension of ambient aerosols. The parametric dependence of the CCN spectra on the physical and chemical properties of the aerosol show that the number distribution, soluble content of the aerosol, and surface tension effects all play an important role in determining CCN spectra.