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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 17 Jun 2020

Submitted as: research article | 17 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Ice nucleating particle concentrations of the past: Insights from a 600 year old Greenland ice core

Jann Schrod1, Dominik Kleinhenz1, Maria Hörhold2, Tobias Erhardt3, Sarah Richter1, Frank Wilhelms2,4, Hubertus Fischer3, Martin Ebert5, Birthe Twarloh2, Damiano Della Lunga2, Camilla Marie Jensen3, Joachim Curtius1, and Heinz G. Bingemer1 Jann Schrod et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 2Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar-und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 3Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute & Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 4GZG, Department of Crystallography, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
  • 5Institute for Applied Geosciences, Technical University of Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany

Abstract. Ice nucleating particles (INPs) affect the microphysics in cloud and precipitation processes. Hence, they modulate the radiative properties of clouds. However, atmospheric INP concentrations of the past are basically unknown. Here, we present INP measurements from an ice core in Greenland, which dates back to the year 1370. In total 135 samples were analyzed with the FRIDGE droplet freezing assay in the temperature range from −14 °C to −35 °C. The sampling frequency was set to 1 in 10 years from 1370 to 1960. From 1960 to 1990 the frequency was increased to 1 sample per year. Additionally, a number of special events were probed, including volcanic episodes. The typical time coverage of a sample was on the order of a few months. Historical atmospheric INP concentrations were estimated with a conversion factor, which depends on the snow accumulation rate of the ice core, particle dry deposition velocity and the wet scavenging ratio. Typical atmospheric INP concentrations were on the order of 0.1 L−1 at −25 °C. The INP variability was found to be about 1–2 orders of magnitude. Yet, the short-term variability from samples over a seasonal cycle was considerably lower. INP concentrations were significantly correlated to chemical tracers derived from continuous flow analysis (CFA) and ion chromatography (IC) over a broad range of nucleation temperatures. The highest correlation coefficients were found for the particle concentration (dp > 1.2 μm). The correlation is higher for the seasonal samples, where INP concentrations follow a clear annual pattern, highlighting the importance of the annual dust input in Greenland from East Asian deserts during spring. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of single particles retrieved from selected samples found particles of soil origin to be the dominant fraction, verifying the significance of mineral dust particles as INPs. Overall, the concentrations compare reasonably well to present day INP concentrations, albeit they are on the lower side. However, we found that the INP concentration at medium supercooled temperatures differed before and after 1960. Average INP concentrations at −23 °C, −24 °C, −25 °C, −26 °C and −28 °C were significantly higher (and more variable) in the modern day period, which could indicate a potential anthropogenic impact or some post-coring contamination of the topmost, very porous firn.

Jann Schrod et al.

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Jann Schrod et al.

Jann Schrod et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Ice nucleating particle (INP) concentrations of the last six centuries are presented from an ice core in Greenland. The data is accompanied by physical and chemical aerosol data. INPs are correlated to the dust signal from the ice core and seem to follow the annual input of mineral dust. We find no clear trend in the INP concentration. However, modern day concentrations are higher and more variable than the concentrations of the past. This might have significant atmospheric implications.
Ice nucleating particle (INP) concentrations of the last six centuries are presented from an ice...