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Volume 18, issue 20 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 15437-15450, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Oct 2018

Research article | 26 Oct 2018

Simulating the influence of primary biological aerosol particles on clouds by heterogeneous ice nucleation

Matthias Hummel1,a, Corinna Hoose1, Bernhard Pummer2, Caroline Schaupp1, Janine Fröhlich-Nowoisky2, and Ottmar Möhler1 Matthias Hummel et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Department of Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • anow at: Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Primary ice formation, which is an important process for mixed-phase clouds with an impact on their lifetime, radiative balance, and hence the climate, strongly depends on the availability of ice-nucleating particles (INPs). Supercooled droplets within these clouds remain liquid until an INP immersed in or colliding with the droplet reaches its activation temperature. Only a few aerosol particles are acting as INPs and the freezing efficiency varies among them. Thus, the fraction of supercooled water in the cloud depends on the specific properties and concentrations of the INPs. Primary biological aerosol particles (PBAPs) have been identified as very efficient INPs at high subzero temperatures, but their very low atmospheric concentrations make it difficult to quantify their impact on clouds.

Here we use the regional atmospheric model COSMO–ART to simulate the heterogeneous ice nucleation by PBAPs during a 1-week case study on a domain covering Europe. We focus on three highly ice-nucleation-active PBAP species, Pseudomonas syringae bacteria cells and spores from the fungi Cladosporium sp. and Mortierella alpina. PBAP emissions are parameterized in order to represent the entirety of bacteria and fungal spores in the atmosphere. Thus, only parts of the simulated PBAPs are assumed to act as INPs. The ice nucleation parameterizations are specific for the three selected species and are based on a deterministic approach. The PBAP concentrations simulated in this study are within the range of previously reported results from other modeling studies and atmospheric measurements. Two regimes of PBAP INP concentrations are identified: a temperature-limited and a PBAP-limited regime, which occur at temperatures above and below a maximal concentration at around −10°C, respectively. In an ensemble of control and disturbed simulations, the change in the average ice crystal concentration by biological INPs is not statistically significant, suggesting that PBAPs have no significant influence on the average state of the cloud ice phase. However, if the cloud top temperature is below −15°C, PBAP can influence the cloud ice phase and produce ice crystals in the absence of other INPs. Nevertheless, the number of produced ice crystals is very low and it has no influence on the modeled number of cloud droplets and hence the cloud structure.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
How important for clouds is the ability of biological particles to glaciate droplets at little supercooling? In a case study, the regional atmospheric model COSMO–ART is used. Perturbed and control runs are compared. The number of ice particles that are nucleated by biological particles is highest at around −10 °C. No significant influence on the average state of the cloud ice phase was found. However, the number of ice crystals is slightly enhanced in the absence of other ice nucleators.
How important for clouds is the ability of biological particles to glaciate droplets at little...