An examination of parameterizations for the CCN number concentration based on in situ measurements of aerosol activation properties in the North China Plain
Precise quantification of the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) number concentration is crucial for understanding aerosol indirect effects and characterizing these effects in models. An evaluation of various methods for CCN parameterization was carried out in this paper based on in situ measurements of aerosol activation properties within HaChi (Haze in China) project. Comparisons were made by closure studies between methods using CCN spectra, bulk activation ratios, cut-off diameters and size-resolved activation ratios. The estimation of CCN number concentrations by the method using aerosol size-resolved activation ratios, either averaged over a day or with diurnal variation, was found to be most satisfying and straightforward. This could be well expected since size-resolved activation ratios include information regarding the effects of size-resolved chemical compositions and mixing states on aerosol activation properties. The method using the averages of critical diameters, which were inferred from measured CCN number concentrations and particle number size distributions, also provided a good prediction of the CCN number concentration. Based on comparisons of all these methods in this paper, it was recommended that the CCN number concentration be predicted using particle number size distributions with inferred critical diameters or size-resolved activation ratios.