Date of Award
James C. Wilson, Ph.D.
Aerosol new particle formation, Aerosol nucleation
Primary aerosol production due to new particle formation (NPF) in the upper troposphere and the impact that this might have on cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentration can be of sufficient magnitude to contribute to the uncertainty in radiative forcing. This uncertainty affects our ability to estimate how sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, new particle formation must be accurately defined, parametrized and accounted for in models.
This research involved the deployment of instruments, data analysis and interpretation of particle formation events during the Mid-latitude Airborne Cirrus Properties Experiment (MACPEX) campaign. The approach combined field measurements and observations with extensive data analysis and modeling to study the process of new particle formation and growth to CCN active sizes. Simultaneous measurements of O3, CO, ultrafine aerosol particles and surface area from a high-altitude research aircraft were used to study tropospheric-stratospheric mixing as well as the frequency and location of NPF. It was found that the upper troposphere was an active region in the production of new particles by gas-to-particle conversion, that nucleation was triggered by convective clouds and mixing processes, and that NPF occurred in regions with high relative humidity and low surface area. In certain cases, mesoscale and synoptic features enhanced mixing and facilitated the formation of new particles in the northern mid-latitudes.
A modeling study of particle growth and CCN formation was done based on measured aerosol size distributions and modeled growth. The results indicate that when SO2 is of sufficient concentration NPF is a significant source of potential CCN in the upper troposphere. In conditions where convective cloud outflow eject high concentrations of SO2, a large number of new particles can form especially in the instance when the preexisting surface area is low. The fast growth of nucleated clusters produces a particle mode that becomes CCN active within 24-hours.
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Axisa, Duncan, "New Particle Formation in the Mid-Latitude Upper Troposphere" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1291.
Received from ProQuest