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Published July 1, 2015 | Published
Journal Article Open

Experimental investigation of ion–ion recombination under atmospheric conditions


We present the results of laboratory measurements of the ion–ion recombination coefficient at different temperatures, relative humidities and concentrations of ozone and sulfur dioxide. The experiments were carried out using the Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets (CLOUD) chamber at CERN, the walls of which are made of conductive material, making it possible to measure small ions. We produced ions in the chamber using a 3.5 GeV c^(−1) beam of positively charged pions (π^+) generated by the CERN Proton Synchrotron (PS). When the PS was switched off, galactic cosmic rays were the only ionization source in the chamber. The range of the ion production rate varied from 2 to 100 cm^(−3) s^(−1), covering the typical range of ionization throughout the troposphere. The temperature ranged from −55 to 20 °C, the relative humidity (RH) from 0 to 70 %, the SO_2 concentration from 0 to 40 ppb, and the ozone concentration from 200 to 700 ppb. The best agreement of the retrieved ion–ion recombination coefficient with the commonly used literature value of 1.6 × 10^(−6) cm^3 s^(−1) was found at a temperature of 5 °C and a RH of 40 % (1.5 ± 0.6) × 10^(−6) cm^3 s^(−1). At 20 °C and 40 % RH, the retrieved ion–ion recombination coefficient was instead (2.3 ± 0.7) × 10^(−6) cm^3 s^(−1). We observed no dependency of the ion–ion recombination coefficient on ozone concentration and a weak variation with sulfur dioxide concentration. However, we observed a more than fourfold increase in the ion–ion recombination coefficient with decreasing temperature. We compared our results with three different models and found an overall agreement for temperatures above 0 °C, but a disagreement at lower temperatures. We observed a strong increase in the recombination coefficient for decreasing relative humidities, which has not been reported previously.

Additional Information

© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Received: 01 Dec 2014 – Published in Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss.: 09 Feb 2015; Revised: 18 May 2015 – Accepted: 26 May 2015 – Published: 01 Jul 2015. We would like to thank CERN for supporting CLOUD with important technical resources and for providing a particle beam from the CERN Proton Synchrotron. This research has received funding from the EC's Seventh Framework Program under grant agreement number 215072 (CLOUD-ITN Marie Curie Initial Training Network) and from the Academy of Finland, via the Center of Excellence program (project number 1118615). Thanks to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (project number 01LK0902A). J. Leppä would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Magnus Ehrnrooth Foundation, the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and the Emil Aaltonen Foundation. This research has been supported by a Marie Curie Early Initial Training Network Fellowship of the European Community's Seventh Framework Program under contract number PITN-GA-2012-316662-CLOUD-TRAIN.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023