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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.

2004
Conant, WC, VanReken TM, Rissman TA, Varutbangkul V, Jonsson HH, Nenes A, Jimenez JL, Delia AE, Bahreini R, Roberts GC, Flagan RC, Seinfeld JH.  2004.  Aerosol-cloud drop concentration closure in warm cumulus. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 109   10.1029/2003jd004324   AbstractWebsite

[1] Our understanding of the activation of aerosol particles into cloud drops during the formation of warm cumulus clouds presently has a limited observational foundation. Detailed observations of aerosol size and composition, cloud microphysics and dynamics, and atmospheric thermodynamic state were collected in a systematic study of 21 cumulus clouds by the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) Twin Otter aircraft during NASA's Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers - Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (CRYSTAL-FACE). An "aerosol-cloud'' closure study was carried out in which a detailed cloud activation parcel model, which predicts cloud drop concentration using observed aerosol concentration, size distribution, cloud updraft velocity, and thermodynamic state, is evaluated against observations. On average, measured droplet concentration in adiabatic cloud regions is within 15% of the predictions. This agreement is corroborated by independent measurements of aerosol activation carried out by two cloud condensation nucleus (CCN) counters on the aircraft. Variations in aerosol concentration, which ranged from 300 to 3300 cm(-3), drives large microphysical differences ( 250 2300 cm(-3)) observed among continental and maritime clouds in the South Florida region. This is the first known study in which a cloud parcel model is evaluated in a closure study using a constraining set of data collected from a single platform. Likewise, this is the first known study in which relationships among aerosol size distribution, CCN spectrum, and cloud droplet concentration are all found to be consistent with theory within experimental uncertainties much less than 50%. Vertical profiles of cloud microphysical properties ( effective radius, droplet concentration, dispersion) clearly demonstrate the boundary layer aerosol's effect on cloud microphysics throughout the lowest 1 km of cloud depth. Onboard measurements of aerosol hygroscopic growth and the organic to sulfate mass ratio are related to CCN properties. These chemical data are used to quantify the range of uncertainty associated with the simplified treatment of aerosol composition assumed in the closure study.