International Team Studying Ice Formation

November 22, 2005

The Chemical Sciences Division is part of an international team to study how ice forms on dust particles in the atmosphere. Dr. Daniel Cziczo from the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich is working with NOAA and CIRES scientists in CSD to bring the CSD's "PALMS" instrument to an experimental chamber in Germany. This chamber, at the Forschungszentrum KarlsruheInstitute for Meteorology and Climate Research, can simulate the conditions under which ice clouds form in the atmosphere.


The Particle Analysis by Laser Mass Spectrometry (PALMS) instrument measures the composition of single aerosol particles. The new capability was developed at CSD (formerly Aeronomy Laboratory) over the last several years. It has been deployed in numerous ground and airborne field missions to study the chemical composition of aerosol particles. The ability of the technique to discern the chemical "fingerprint" of individual particles is a distinguishing aspect of the PALMS instrument.


The chamber results will be compared to previous studies of ice nucleation using PALMS at a mountaintop site and on a high-flying airplane. The work is contributing to the objectives of the Climate Forcing Program of NOAA's Climate Mission Goal. Ice clouds have effects on the radiative balance of the atmosphere, and hence climate. The research in CSD is aimed at enhancing the scientific understanding of processes that affect how and where ice clouds form. Previous work at CSD/Aeronomy Lab has shown that only a small fraction of atmospheric particles are effective nuclei for ice cloud formation. More information:

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