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Published August 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Relationships of Biomass-Burning Aerosols to Ice in Orographic Wave Clouds


Ice concentrations in orographic wave clouds at temperatures between −24° and −29°C were shown to be related to aerosol characteristics in nearby clear air during five research flights over the Rocky Mountains. When clouds with influence from colder temperatures were excluded from the dataset, mean ice nuclei and cloud ice number concentrations were very low, on the order of 1–5 L^(−1). In this environment, ice number concentrations were found to be significantly correlated with the number concentration of larger particles, those larger than both 0.1- and 0.5-μm diameter. A variety of complementary techniques was used to measure aerosol size distributions and chemical composition. Strong correlations were also observed between ice concentrations and the number concentrations of soot and biomass-burning aerosols. Ice nuclei concentrations directly measured in biomass-burning plumes were the highest detected during the project. Taken together, this evidence indicates a potential role for biomass-burning aerosols in ice formation, particularly in regions with relatively low concentrations of other ice nucleating aerosols.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Meteorological Society. Manuscript received 8 September 2009, in final form 16 March 2010. We acknowledge the National Science Foundation for a plethora of grants issued to support various aspects of this work: C. Twohy under Grant ATM-0612605, P. DeMott under Grant ATM-0611936, and R. Subramanian and G. Kok under Grant ATM- 0631919. K. Pratt and K. Prather acknowledge NSF for support of ICE-L (ATM-0650659), A-ATOFMS development (ATM-0321362), and a graduate research fellowship for K.A. Pratt. S. M. Murphy and J. H. Seinfeld acknowledge NSF for support of ICE-L (ATM-0340832) and also NASA for an Earth and Space Sciences Fellowship for S. M. Murphy. Samuel Haimov of the University of Wyoming provided important airborne radar data. Anthony Prenni and Markus Petters are acknowledged for help in collecting CFDC data, Trude Eidhammer for help in both collection and final processing of CFDC data, and Darrel Baumgardner for useful suggestions. Special thanks are due to Rich Cageao, Errol Korn, and Julia Sobolik for CVI support, as well as the entire aircraft crew of the National Center for Atmospheric Research for technical and professional assistance.

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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023