Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 7, 6077-6112, 2007
www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/7/6077/2007/
doi:10.5194/acpd-7-6077-2007
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
On the contribution of Aitken mode particles to cloud droplet populations at continental background areas – a parametric sensitivity study
T. Anttila and V.-M. Kerminen
Finnish Meteorological Institute, Research and Development, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Finland

Abstract. Aitken mode particles are potentially an important source of cloud droplets in continental background areas. In order to find out which physico-chemical properties of Aitken mode particles are most important regarding their cloud-nucleating ability, we applied a global sensitivity method to an adiabatic air parcel model simulating the number of cloud droplets formed on Aitken mode particles, CD2. The technique propagates uncertainties in the parameters describing the properties of Aitken mode to CD2. The results show that if the Aitken mode particles do not contain molecules that are able to reduce the particle surface tension more than 30% and/or decrease the mass accommodation coefficient of water, α, below 10−2, the chemical composition and modal properties may have roughly an equal importance at low updraft velocities characterized by maximum supersaturations <0.1%. For larger updraft velocities, however, the particle size distribution is clearly more important than the chemical composition. In general, CD2 exhibits largest sensitivity to the particle number concentration, followed by the particle size. Also the shape of the particle mode, characterized by the geometric standard deviation (GSD), can be as important as the mode mean size at low updraft velocities. Finally, the performed sensitivity analysis revealed also that the chemistry may dominate the total sensitivity of CD2 to the considered parameters if: 1) the value of α varies at least one order of magnitude more than what is expected for pure water surfaces (10−2–1), or 2) the particle surface tension varies more than roughly 30% under conditions close to reaching supersaturation.

Citation: Anttila, T. and Kerminen, V.-M.: On the contribution of Aitken mode particles to cloud droplet populations at continental background areas – a parametric sensitivity study, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 7, 6077-6112, doi:10.5194/acpd-7-6077-2007, 2007.
 
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