A meta-analysis of particle water uptake reconciliation studies

Whitehead, J. D.; Irwin, M.; Allan, J. D.; Good, N.; McFiggans, G.

Water uptake by aerosol particles controls their ability to form cloud droplets, and reconciliation between different techniques for examining cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) properties is important to our understanding of these processes and our ability to measure and predict them. Reconciliation between measurements of sub-saturated and supersaturated aerosol particle water uptake was attempted at a wide range of locations between 2007 and 2013. The agreement in derived number of CCN ( NCCN or particle hygroscopicity was mixed across the projects, with some data sets showing poor agreement across all supersaturations and others agreeing within errors for at least some of the supersaturation range. The degree of reconciliation did not seem to depend on the environment in which the measurements were taken. The discrepancies can only be attributable to differences in the chemical behaviour of aerosols and gases in each instrument, leading to under- or overestimated growth factors and/or CCN counts, though poorer reconciliation at lower supersaturations can be attributed to uncertainties in the size distribution at the threshold diameter found at these supersaturations. From a single instrument, the variability in NCCN calculated using particle hygroscopicity or size distribution averaged across a project demonstrates a greater sensitivity to variation in the size distribution than chemical composition in most of the experiments. However, the discrepancies between instruments indicate a strong requirement for reliable quantification of CCN in line with an improved understanding of the physical processes involved in their measurement. Without understanding the reason for discrepancies in the measurements, it is questionable whether quantification of CCN behaviour is meaningful.

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Whitehead, J. D. / Irwin, M. / Allan, J. D. / et al: A meta-analysis of particle water uptake reconciliation studies. 2014. Copernicus Publications.

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