Spatial Variability of CCN Sized Aerosol Particles

Friday, 19 December 2014
Ari Asmi and Riikka Väänänen, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
The computational limitations restrict the grid size used in GCM models, and for many cloud types they are too large when compared to the scale of the cloud formation processes. Several parameterizations for e.g. convective cloud formation exist, but information on spatial subgrid variation of the cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs) sized aerosol concentration is not known.

We quantify this variation as a function of the spatial scale by using datasets from airborne aerosol measurement campaigns around the world including EUCAARI LONGREX, ATAR, INCA, INDOEX, CLAIRE, PEGASOS and several regional airborne campaigns in Finland. The typical shapes of the distributions are analyzed. When possible, we use information obtained by CCN counters. In some other cases, we use particle size distribution measured by for example SMPS to get approximated CCN concentration. Other instruments used include optical particle counters or condensational particle counters.

When using the GCM models, the CCN concentration used for each the grid-box is often considered to be either flat, or as an arithmetic mean of the concentration inside the grid-box. However, the aircraft data shows that the concentration values are often lognormal distributed. This, combined with the subgrid variations in the land use and atmospheric properties, might cause that the aerosol-cloud interactions calculated by using mean values to vary significantly from the true effects both temporary and spatially. This, in turn, can cause non-linear bias into the GCMs.

We calculate the CCN aerosol concentration distribution as a function of different spatial scales. The measurements allow us to study the variation of these distributions within from hundreds of meters up to hundreds of kilometers. This is used to quantify the potential error when mean values are used in GCMs.