Articles | Volume 8, issue 6
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 2449–2462, 2015

Special issue: NETCARE (Network on Aerosols and Climate: Addressing Key Uncertainties...

Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 2449–2462, 2015

Research article 15 Jun 2015

Research article | 15 Jun 2015

The micro-orifice uniform deposit impactor–droplet freezing technique (MOUDI-DFT) for measuring concentrations of ice nucleating particles as a function of size: improvements and initial validation

R. H. Mason1, C. Chou1, C. S. McCluskey2, E. J. T. Levin2, C. L. Schiller3, T. C. J. Hill2, J. A. Huffman4, P. J. DeMott2, and A. K. Bertram1 R. H. Mason et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
  • 3Air Quality Science Unit, Environment Canada, Vancouver, BC V6C 3S5, Canada
  • 4Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA

Abstract. The micro-orifice uniform deposit impactor–droplet freezing technique (MOUDI-DFT) combines particle collection by inertial impaction (via the MOUDI) and a microscope-based immersion freezing apparatus (the DFT) to measure atmospheric concentrations of ice nucleating particles (INPs) as a function of size and temperature. In the first part of this study we improved upon this recently introduced technique. Using optical microscopy, we investigated the non-uniformity of MOUDI aerosol deposits at spatial resolutions of 1, 0.25 mm, and for some stages when necessary 0.10 mm. The results from these measurements show that at a spatial resolution of 1 mm and less, the concentration of particles along the MOUDI aerosol deposits can vary by an order of magnitude or more. Since the total area of a MOUDI aerosol deposit ranges from 425 to 605 mm2 and the area analyzed by the DFT is approximately 1.2 mm2, this non-uniformity needs to be taken into account when using the MOUDI-DFT to determine atmospheric concentrations of INPs. Measurements of the non-uniformity of the MOUDI aerosol deposits were used to select positions on the deposits that had relatively small variations in particle concentration and to build substrate holders for the different MOUDI stages. These substrate holders improve reproducibility by holding the substrate in the same location for each measurement and ensure that DFT analysis is only performed on substrate regions with relatively small variations in particle concentration. In addition, the deposit non-uniformity was used to determine correction factors that take the non-uniformity into account when determining atmospheric concentrations of INPs. In the second part of this study, the MOUDI-DFT utilizing the new substrate holders was compared to the continuous flow diffusion chamber (CFDC) technique of Colorado State University. The intercomparison was done using INP concentrations found by the two instruments during ambient measurements of continental aerosols. Results from two sampling periods were compared, and the INP concentrations determined by the two techniques agreed within experimental uncertainty. The agreement observed here is commensurate with the level of agreement found in other studies where CFDC results were compared to INP concentrations measured with other methods.