Articles | Volume 7, issue 8
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 2615–2629, 2014
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 2615–2629, 2014

Research article 19 Aug 2014

Research article | 19 Aug 2014

Assessment of cloud supersaturation by size-resolved aerosol particle and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) measurements

M. L. Krüger1, S. Mertes2, T. Klimach1, Y. F. Cheng1, H. Su1, J. Schneider1, M. O. Andreae1, U. Pöschl1, and D. Rose1,* M. L. Krüger et al.
  • 1Multiphase Chemistry, Biogeochemistry, and Particle Chemistry Departments, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, P.O. Box 3060, 55020 Mainz, Germany
  • 2Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
  • *now at: Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, Altenhöferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Abstract. In this study we show how size-resolved measurements of aerosol particles and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) can be used to characterize the supersaturation of water vapor in a cloud. The method was developed and applied during the ACRIDICON-Zugspitze campaign (17 September to 4 October 2012) at the high-Alpine research station Schneefernerhaus (German Alps, 2650 m a.s.l.). Number size distributions of total and interstitial aerosol particles were measured with a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS), and size-resolved CCN efficiency spectra were recorded with a CCN counter system operated at different supersaturation levels.

During the evolution of a cloud, aerosol particles are exposed to different supersaturation levels. We outline and compare different estimates for the lower and upper bounds (Slow, Shigh) and the average value (Savg) of peak supersaturation encountered by the particles in the cloud. A major advantage of the derivation of Slow and Savg from size-resolved CCN efficiency spectra is that it does not require the specific knowledge or assumptions about aerosol hygroscopicity that are needed to derive estimates of Slow, Shigh, and Savg from aerosol size distribution data. For the investigated cloud event, we derived Slow ≈ 0.07–0.25%, Shigh ≈ 0.86–1.31% and Savg ≈ 0.42–0.68%.