Airborne observations of newly formed boundary layer aerosol particles under cloudy conditions

Altstädter, Barbara GND; Platis, Andreas; Jähn, Michael; Baars, Holger; Lückerath, Janine; Held, Andreas; Lampert, Astrid GND; Bange, Jens; Hermann, Markus; Wehner, Birgit

This study describes the appearance of ultrafine boundary layer aerosol particles under classical "non-favourable" conditions at the research site of TROPOS (Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research). Airborne measurements of meteorological and aerosol properties of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) were repeatedly performed with the unmanned aerial system ALADINA (Application of Light-weight Aircraft for Detecting IN-situ Aerosol) during three seasons between October 2013 and July 2015. More than 100 measurement flights were conducted on 23 different days with a total flight duration of 53h. In 26% of the cases, maxima of ultrafine particles were observed close to the inversion layer at altitudes between 400 and 600m and the particles were rapidly mixed vertically and mainly transported downwards during short time intervals of cloud gaps. This study focuses on two measurement days affected by low-level stratocumulus clouds, but different wind directions (NE, SW) and minimal concentrations (<4.6µgm−3) of SO2, as a common indicator for precursor gases at ground. Taken from vertical profiles, the onset of clouds led to a non-linearity of humidity that resulted in an increased turbulence at the local-scale and caused fast nucleation e.g., but in relation to rapid dilution of surrounding air, seen in sporadic clusters of ground data, so that ultrafine particles disappeared in the verticality. The typical "banana shape" of new particle formation (NPF) and growth was not seen at ground and thus these days might not have been classified as NPF event days by pure surface studies.


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