Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 12999-13037, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed
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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.
Impact of nucleation on global CCN
J. Merikanto, D. V. Spracklen, G. W. Mann, S. J. Pickering, and K. S. Carslaw
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Abstract. Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) are derived from particles emitted directly into the atmosphere (primary emissions) or from the growth of nanometer-sized particles nucleated in the atmosphere. It is important to separate these two sources because they respond in different ways to gas and particle emission control strategies and environmental changes. Here, we use a global aerosol microphysics model to quantify the contribution of primary and nucleated particles to global CCN. The model considers primary emissions of sea spray, sulfate and carbonaceous particles, and nucleation processes appropriate for the free troposphere and boundary layer. We estimate that 45% of global low-level cloud CCN at 0.2% supersaturation are secondary aerosol derived from nucleation (ranging between 31–49% taking into account uncertainties primary emissions and nucleation rates), the remainder being directly emitted as primary aerosol. The model suggests that 35% of CCN (0.2%) in low-level clouds were created in the free and upper troposphere. In the marine boundary layer 55% of CCN (0.2%) are from nucleation, 45% being entrained from the free troposphere. Both in global and marine boundary layer 10% of CCN (0.2%) is nucleated in the boundary layer. Combinations of model runs show that primary and nucleated CCN are non-linearly coupled. In particular, boundary layer nucleated CCN are strongly suppressed by both primary emissions and entrainment of particles nucleated in the free troposphere. Elimination of all primary emissions reduces global CCN (0.2%) by only 20% and elimination of upper tropospheric nucleation reduces CCN (0.2%) by only 12% because of increased impact of boundary layer nucleation on CCN.

Citation: Merikanto, J., Spracklen, D. V., Mann, G. W., Pickering, S. J., and Carslaw, K. S.: Impact of nucleation on global CCN, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 12999-13037, doi:10.5194/acpd-9-12999-2009, 2009.
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