Turbulent layers promoting New Particle Formation

1 May 2024 - 20 May 2024

Lead Scientist: Gannet Hallar

Observatory: aaf, sgp

New particle formation (NPF) is a complex atmospheric phenomenon characterized by the initial gas-to-particle conversion (nucleation) that can then lead to the sudden burst and growth of aerosols. Depending on the intensity and growth, NPF can contribute significantly to aerosol loading in urban and remote regions. The resulting aerosols modulate the global radiation budget, influence cloud formation, and pose a risk to public health by degrading air quality. Processes within the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), such as the formation of stable atmospheric layers and their subsequent breakup due to turbulent mixing, can lead to de-coupling and re-coupling of different atmospheric reservoirs to create favorable conditions for, and to help initiate, NPF. The unique observational capabilities of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility and ARM’s ArcticShark uncrewed aerial system, combined with measurements at ARM’s Southern Great Plains (SGP) atmospheric observatory, will help elucidate the effect of turbulent processes on NPF. The following two scientific questions will be addressed using the combined sampling assets provided via the ArcticShark and SGP Central Facility instrumentation:

1. Do differences in temporal and ambient environmental conditions exist associated with turbulence between NPF aloft and at the surface?

2. Can we track the vertical transport of aerosols with the decoupling of the boundary layer?

We are using the ArcticShark with the Package 2 payload designed for aerosol size distribution in May 2024. This aerosol package will allow us to observe rapid size distributions (15 secs/scan) of nanoparticles using the Miniaturized Scanning Electrical Mobility Sizer. After discussions with the engineering team of the ArcticShark, we are confident that we will be able to calculate turbulence kinetic energy using the 100 Hz 3-D wind sensor. The region surrounding ARM’s SGP observatory is an ideal location to investigate the relationship between NPF and turbulence throughout the ABL.


Gerardo Carrillo-Cardenas