Vertically-Resolved NPF Study - SGP

15 July 2019 - 2 November 2019

Lead Scientist: Chongai Kuang

Observatory: SGP

The formation of 1-nm-sized atmospheric clusters is an important environmental nanoscale process, with field measurements and modeling studies indicating that freshly nucleated particles can contribute significantly to the global population of aerosol and cloud condensation nuclei (Kerminen et al. 2005; Kuang et al. 2009; Lihavainen et al. 2003; Merikanto et al. 2010). While there have been an increasing number of atmospheric cluster measurements from surface-based platforms, very few measurements have been made of the vertically resolved ambient cluster size distribution from aerial platforms. Vertically resolved atmospheric cluster measurements are needed because aerosol formation in the upper troposphere may be a significant source of cloud condensation nuclei (Chen et al. 2018; Wang et al. 2016). Furthermore, these vertically resolved measurements are needed to: • Connect the atmospheric conditions that drive atmospheric new particle formation (NPF) with large-scale boundary-layer transport processes and meteorology, and • Evaluate the extent to which surface-based aerosol measurements are representative of the atmospheric aerosol aloft. Vertically resolved profiles of the atmospheric aerosol cluster concentration and size distribution will be obtained via the deployment of a pair of water-based condensation particle counters (CPCs) on board the ARM Tethered Balloon System (TBS). The water-based CPCs will be modified to detect aerosol down to 3 nm and below according to established protocols (Kuang et al. 2012). Proposed measurements will take place at the Central Facility of the ARM SGP site, which is ideal for studying NPF due to the frequent observations of NPF at the surface as well as NPF observations aloft (Chen et al. 2018; Hodshire et al. 2016). The proposed measurements of the atmospheric aerosol clusters will improve upon the measurements made during previous campaigns (NPFS and HI-SCALE) by extending the aerosol size detection limit down to 3 nm and below, more directly measuring the atmospheric cluster population.

Additional Information


Chen, H, AL Hodshire, J Ortega, J Greenberg, PH McMurry, AG Carlton, JR Pierce, DR Hanson, and JN Smith. 2018. "Vertically resolved concentration and liquid water content of atmospheric nanoparticles at the US DOE Southern Great Plains site." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 18(1): 311–326, doi:10.5194/acp-18-311-2018

Hodshire, AL,MJ Lawler, J Zhao, J Ortega, C Jen, T Yli-Juuti, JF Brewer, JK Kodros, KC Barsanti, and DR Hanson. 2016. "Multiple new-particle growth pathways observed at the US DOE Southern Great Plains field site." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 16(14): 9321–9348, doi:10.5194/acp-16-9321-2016

Kerminen, VM, H Lihavainen, M Komppula, Y Viisanen, and M Kulmala. 2005. "Direct observational evidence linking atmospheric aerosol formation and cloud droplet activation." Geophysical Research Letters 32(14): L14803, doi:10.1029/2005GL023130

Kuang, C, M Chen, PH McMurry, and J Wang. 2012. "Modification of Laminar Flow Ultrafine Condensation Particle Counters for the Enhanced Detection of 1 nm Condensation Nuclei." Aerosol Science and Technology 46(3): 309–315, doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.626815

Kuang, C, PH McMurry, and AV McCormick. 2009. "Determination of cloud condensation nuclei production from measured new particle formation events." Geophysical Research Letters 36(9): L09822, doi:10.1029/2009GL037584

Lihavainen, H, VM Kerminen, M Komppula, J Hatakka, V Aaltonen, M Kulmala, and Y Viisanen. 2003. "Production of "potential" cloud condensation nuclei associated with atmospheric new-particle formation in northern Finland." Journal of Geophysical Research 108(D24): 8, doi:10.1029/2003JD003887

Merikanto, J, D Spracklen, K Pringle, and K Carslaw. 2010. "Effects of boundary layer particle formation on cloud droplet number and changes in cloud albedo from 1850 to 2000." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 10(2): 695–705, doi:10.5194/acp-10-695-2010

Wang, J, R Krejci, S Giangrande, C Kuang, HM Barbosa, J Brito, S Carbone, X Chi, J Comstock, and F Ditas. 2016. "Amazon boundary layer aerosol concentration sustained by vertical transport during rainfall." Nature 539: 416–419, doi:10.1038/nature19819


Kuang C. 2020. Vertically Resolved New Particle Formation Study – Southern Great Plains Field Campaign Report. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-20-009.

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