Laboratory and modeling studies on the effects of water and soot emissions and ambient conditions on the properties of contrail ice particles in the jet regime
Contrails and contrail-induced cirrus clouds are identified as the most uncertain components in determining aviation impacts on global climate change. Parameters affecting contrail ice particle formation immediately after the engine exit plane (< 5 s in plume age) may be critical to ice particle properties used in large-scale models predicting contrail radiative forcing. Despite this, detailed understanding of these parametric effects is still limited. In this paper, we present results from recent laboratory and modeling studies conducted to investigate the effects of water and soot emissions and ambient conditions on near-field formation of contrail ice particles and ice particle properties. The Particle Aerosol Laboratory (PAL) at the NASA Glenn Research Center and the Aerodyne microphysical parcel model for contrail ice particle formation were employed. Our studies show that exhaust water concentration has a significant impact on contrail ice particle formation and properties. When soot particles were introduced, ice particle formation was observed only when exhaust water concentration was above a critical level. When no soot or sulfuric acid was introduced, no ice particle formation was observed, suggesting that ice particle formation from homogeneous nucleation followed by homogeneous freezing of liquid water was unfavorable. Soot particles were found to compete for water vapor condensation, and higher soot concentrations emitted into the chamber resulted in smaller ice particles being formed. Chamber conditions corresponding to higher cruising altitudes were found to favor ice particle formation. The microphysical model captures trends of particle extinction measurements well, but discrepancies between the model and the optical particle counter measurements exist as the model predicts narrower ice particle size distributions and ice particle sizes nearly a factor of two larger than measured. These discrepancies are likely due to particle loss and scatter during the experimental sampling process and the lack of treatment of turbulent mixing in the model. Our combined experimental and modeling work demonstrates that formation of contrail ice particles can be reproduced in the NASA PAL facility, and the parametric understanding of the ice particle properties from the model and experiments can potentially be used in large-scale models to provide better estimates of the impact of aviation contrails on climate change.