Enhanced High-Temperature Ice Nucleation Ability of Crystallized Aerosol Particles after Pre-Activation at Low Temperature
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The term pre-activation in heterogeneous ice nucleation describes the observation that the ice nucleation ability of solid ice nuclei may improve after they have already been involved in ice crystal formation or have been exposed to a temperature lower than 235 K. This can be explained by the retention of small ice embryos in cavities or crevices at the particle surface or by the capillary condensation and freezing of supercooled water, respectively. In recent cloud chamber experiments with crystallized aqueous ammonium sulfate, oxalic acid, and succinic acid solution droplets, we have unraveled a further pre-activation mechanism under ice subsaturated conditions which does not require the preceding growth of ice on the seed aerosol particles (Wagner, R. et al., J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 119, doi: 10.1002/2014JD021741). First cloud expansion experiments were performed at a high temperature (267 – 244 K) where the crystallized particles did not promote any heterogeneous ice nucleation. Ice nucleation at this temperature, however, could be triggered by temporarily cooling the crystallized particles to a lower temperature. This is because upon crystallization, residuals of the aqueous solution are trapped within the crystals. These captured liquids can freeze when cooled below their respective homogeneous or heterogeneous freezing temperature, leading to the formation of ice pockets in the crystalline particles. When warmed again to the higher temperature, ice formation by the pre-activated particles occurred via depositional and deliquescence-induced ice growth, with ice active fractions ranging from 1 to 4% and 4 to 20%, respectively. Pre-activation disappeared above the eutectic temperature, which for the organic acids are close to the melting point of ice. This mechanism could therefore contribute to the very small fraction of atmospheric aerosol particles that are still ice active well above 263 K.