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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1032
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-1032
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Nov 2018

Research article | 06 Nov 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The impact of solar radiation on polar mesospheric ice particle formation

Mario Nachbar1, Henrike Wilms2, Denis Duft1, Tasha Aylett3, Kensei Kitajima4, Takuya Majima4, John M. C. Plane3, Markus Rapp2,5, and Thomas Leisner1,6 Mario Nachbar et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – KIT, Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
  • 2Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 3School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, LS2 9JT
  • 4Department of Nuclear Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto 615-8540, Japan
  • 5Meteorologisches Institut München, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  • 6Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 229, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract. Mean temperatures in the polar summer mesopause can drop to 130K. The cold temperatures in combination with water vapor mixing ratios of a few parts per million give rise to the formation of ice particles. These ice particles may be observed as polar mesospheric clouds. Mesospheric ice cloud formation is believed to initiate heterogeneously on small aerosol particles (r<2nm) composed of re-condensed meteoric material, so called Meteoric Smoke Particles (MSPs). Recently, we investigated the ice activation and growth behavior of MSP analogues under realistic mesopause conditions. Based on these measurements we presented a new activation model which largely reduced the uncertainties in describing ice particle formation. However, this activation model neglected the possibility that MSPs heat up in the low density mesopause due to absorption of solar and terrestrial irradiation. Radiative heating of the particles may severely reduce their ice formation ability. In this study we expose MSP analogues (Fe2O3 and FexSi1-xO3) to realistic mesopause temperatures and water vapor concentrations and investigate particle warming under the influence of variable intensities of visible light (405, 488, and 660nm). We show that Mie theory calculations using refractive indices of bulk material from the literature combined with an equilibrium temperature model presented in this work predict the particle warming very well. Additionally, we confirm that the absorption efficiency increases with the iron content of the MSP material. We apply our findings to mesopause conditions and conclude that the impact of solar and terrestrial radiation on ice particle formation is significantly lower than previously assumed.

Mario Nachbar et al.
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Polar mesospheric clouds (PMC) are water ice clouds forming on nano-particles in the polar summer mesopause. We investigate the impact of solar radiation on PMC formation in the laboratory. We show that Mie theory calculations combined with an equilibrium temperature model presented in this work predict the warming of the particles very well. Using this model we demonstrate that the impact of solar radiation on ice particle formation is significantly lower than previously assumed.
Polar mesospheric clouds (PMC) are water ice clouds forming on nano-particles in the polar...
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