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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-869
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-869
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 11 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 11 Nov 2019

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

Complex plant-derived organic aerosol as ice-nucleating particles – more than a sum of their parts?

Isabelle Steinke1,a, Naruki Hiranuma2, Roger Funk3, Kristina Höhler1, Nadine Tüllmann1, Nsikanabasi Silas Umo1, Peter G. Weidler4, Ottmar Möhler1, and Thomas Leisner1 Isabelle Steinke et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research – Atmospheric Aerosol Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, USA
  • 3Working Group Landscape Pedology, Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Müncheberg, Germany
  • 4Institute of Functional Interfaces, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • anow at: Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, USA

Abstract. Quantifying the impact of complex organic particles on the formation of ice crystals in clouds remains challenging, mostly due to the vast number of different sources ranging from sea spray to agricultural areas. In particular, there are many open questions regarding the ice nucleation properties of organic particles released from terrestrial sources such as decaying plant material. In this work, we present results from laboratory studies investigating the immersion freezing properties of individual organic compounds commonly found in plant tissue and complex organic aerosol particles from vegetated environments. To characterize the ice nucleation properties of plant-related aerosol samples for temperatures between 242 and 267 K, we used the Aerosol Interaction and Dynamics in the Atmosphere (AIDA) cloud chamber and the Ice Nucleation Spectrometer of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (INSEKT), which is a droplet freezing assay. Individual plant components (polysaccharides, lignin, soy and rice protein) were mostly less or similarly ice-active compared to microcrystalline cellulose, which has been suggested by recent studies as a proxy for quantifying the primary cloud ice formation caused by particles originating from vegetation. In contrast, samples from ambient sources with a complex organic matter composition (agricultural soils, leaf litter) were either similarly ice-active or up to two orders of magnitude more ice-active than cellulose. Of all individual organic plant components, only carnauba wax (i.e. lipids) showed a similarly high ice nucleation activity as the samples from vegetated environments over a temperature range between 245 and 252 K. Hence, based on our experimental results, we suggest to consider cellulose as being representative for the average ice nucleation activity of plant-derived particles, whereas lignin and plant proteins tend to provide a lower limit. In contrast, complex biological particles may exhibit ice nucleation activities which are up to two orders of magnitude higher than observed for cellulose, making ambient plant-derived particles a potentially important contributor to the population of ice-nucleating particles in the troposphere.

Isabelle Steinke et al.
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Isabelle Steinke et al.
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Short summary
In this study, we highlight the potential impact of particles from certain terrestrial sources on the formation of ice crystals in clouds. In particular, we focus on biogenic particles consisting of various organic compounds which makes it very difficult to predict the ice nucleation properties of complex ambient particles. We find that these ambient particles are often more ice-active than individual components.
In this study, we highlight the potential impact of particles from certain terrestrial sources...
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