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Characteristics of atmospheric ice nucleating particles associated with biomass...

McCluskey, C. S., P. J. DeMott, A. J. Prenni, E. Levin, G. R. McMeeking, A. P. Sullivan, T. C. J. Hill, S. Nakao, C. M. Carrico, and S. M. Kreidenweis (2014), Characteristics of atmospheric ice nucleating particles associated with biomass burning in the US: Prescribed burns and wildfires, J. Geophys. Res., 119, 10,458-10,470, doi:10.1002/2014JD021980.

An improved understanding of atmospheric ice nucleating particles (INP), including sources and atmospheric abundance, is needed to advance our understanding of aerosol-cloud-climate interactions. This study examines diverse biomass burning events to better constrain our understanding of how fires impact populations of INP. Sampling of prescribed burns and wildfires in Colorado and Georgia, U.S.A., revealed that biomass burning leads to the release of particles that are active as condensation/immersion freezing INP at temperatures from 32 to 12°C. During prescribed burning of wiregrass, up to 64% of INP collected during smoke-impacted periods were identified as soot particles via electron microscopy analyses. Other carbonaceous types and mineral-like particles dominated INP collected during wildfires of ponderosa pine forest in Colorado. Total measured nINP and the excess nINP associated with smoke-impacted periods were higher during two wildfires compared to the prescribed burns. Interferences from non-smoke sources of INP, including long-range transported mineral dust and local contributions of soils and plant materials lofted from the wildfires themselves, presented challenges in using the observations to develop a smoke-specific nINP parameterization. Nevertheless, these field observations suggest that biomass burning may serve as an important source of INP on a regional scale, particularly during time periods that lack other robust sources of INP such as long-range transported mineral dust.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)