Abundance of fluorescent biological aerosol particles at temperatures conducive to the formation of mixed-phase and cirrus clouds Journal Article uri icon

Overview

abstract

  • Some types of biological particles are known to nucleate ice at warmer temperatures than mineral dust, with the potential to influence cloud microphysical properties and climate. However, the prevalence of these particle types above the atmospheric boundary layer is not well known. Many types of biological particles fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light, and the Wideband Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor takes advantage of this characteristic to perform real-time measurements of fluorescent biological aerosol particles (FBAP). This relatively new instrument was flown on the National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream-V aircraft to measure concentrations of fluorescent biological particles from different potential sources and at various altitudes over the U. S. western plains states in early autumn. Clear-air number concentrations of FBAP larger than 0.8 µm diameter usually decreased with height, and generally were about 10&ndash;100 L<sup>&minus;1</sup> in the continental boundary layer, but were always much lower at temperatures colder than 255 K in the free troposphere. At intermediate temperatures where biological ice nucleating particles may influence mixed-phase cloud formation (255 K ≤ T ≤ 270 K), concentrations of fluorescent particles were the most variable, and were occasionally near boundary layer concentrations. Predicted vertical distributions of ice nucleating particle concentrations based on FBAP measurements in this temperature regime sometimes reached typical concentrations of primary ice in clouds, but were often much lower. If convection was assumed to lift boundary layer FBAP particles without losses to the free troposphere, better agreement between predicted ice-nucleating particle concentrations and typical ice crystal concentrations was achieved. Ice nucleating particle concentrations were also measured during one flight and showed a decrease with height, and concentrations were consistent with a relationship to FBAP established previously at the forested surface site below. The vertical distributions of FBAP measured on five flights were also compared with those for bacteria, fungal spores and pollen predicted from the EMAC global chemistry-climate model for the same geographic region.

publication date

  • February 11, 2016

Full Author List

  • Twohy CH; McMeeking GR; DeMott PJ; McCluskey CS; Hill TCJ; Burrows SM; Kulkarni GR; Tanarhte M; Kafle DN; Toohey DW

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Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1

end page

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