Details for The effect of clouds on aerosol growth in the rural atmosphere

Name:The effect of clouds on aerosol growth in the rural atmosphere

Colin D. O'Dowd, Jason A. Lowe, Michael H. Smith, The effect of clouds on aerosol growth in the rural atmosphere, Atmospheric ResearchVolume 54, Issue 4, , August 2000, Pages 201-221.


Measurements of accumulation mode aerosol in the atmospheric boundary layer under cloudy and cloud-free conditions, and in the lower free troposphere under cloud-free conditions, were conducted over the rural northwest of England. Normalised size distributions in the cloud-free boundary layer (CFBL) and the cloud-free free troposphere (CFFT) exhibited almost identical spectral similarities with both size distributions possessing a concentration peak mode-radius of 0.05 μm or less. By comparison, aerosol distributions observed in cloudy air exhibited a distinctive log-normal distribution with mode-radii occurring at 0.1 μm concomitant with a local minimum at 0.05 μm. The consistent and noticeable difference in spectral features observed between cloudy and cloud-free conditions suggest that a greater amount of gas-to-particle conversion occurs on cloudy days, presumably through in-cloud aqueous phase oxidation processes, leading to larger sized accumulation mode particles. Apart from the distinct difference between cloudy and cloud-free aerosol spectra on cloudy days, aerosol concentration and mass were observed to be significantly enhanced above that of the ambient background in the vicinity of clouds. Volatility analysis during one case of cloud processing indicated an increase in the relative contribution of aerosol mass volatile at temperatures characteristic of sulphuric acid, along with a smaller fraction of more volatile material (possibly nitric acid and/or organic aerosol). Growth-law analysis of possible growth mechanisms point to aqueous phase oxidation of aerosol precursors in cloud droplets as being the only feasible mechanism capable of producing the observed growth. The effect of cloud processing is to alter the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) supersaturation spectrum in a manner which increases the availability of CCN at lower cloud supersaturations.


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