Ion-induced sulfuric acid–ammonia nucleation drives particle formation in coastal Antarctica

  • Formation of new aerosol particles from trace gases is a major source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in the global atmosphere, with potentially large effects on cloud optical properties and Earth’s radiative balance. Controlled laboratory experiments have resolved, in detail, the different nucleation pathways likely responsible for atmospheric new particle formation, yet very little is known from field studies about the molecular steps and compounds involved in different regions of the atmosphere. The scarcity of primary particle sources makes secondary aerosol formation particularly important in the Antarctic atmosphere. Here, we report on the observation of ion-induced nucleation of sulfuric acid and ammonia—a process experimentally investigated by the CERN CLOUD experiment—as a major source of secondary aerosol particles over coastal Antarctica. We further show that measured high sulfuric acid concentrations, exceeding 107 molecules cm−3, are sufficient to explain the observed new particle growth rates. Our findings show that ion-induced nucleation is the dominant particle formation mechanism, implying that galactic cosmic radiation plays a key role in new particle formation in the pristine Antarctic atmosphere.

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Author:Tuija Jokinen, Mikko Sipilä, Jenni Kontkanen, Ville Vakkari, Priit Tisler, Ella-Maria Duplissy, Heikki Junninen, Juha Kangasluoma, Hanna Elina Manninen, Tuukka Petäjä, Markku Kulmala, Douglas R. Worsnop, Jasper Kirkby, Aki Virkkula, Veli-Matti Kerminen
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Science advances
Place of publication:Washington, DC [u. a.]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/11/28
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/12/27
Issue:11, eaat9744
Page Number:7
First Page:1
Last Page:6
opyright © 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 55 Geowissenschaften, Geologie / 550 Geowissenschaften
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 4.0