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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 03 Dec 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Resolving the size of ice-nucleating particles with a balloon deployable aerosol sampler: the SHARK

Grace C. E. Porter1,2, Sebastien N. F. Sikora1, Michael P. Adams1, Ulrike Proske1,3, Alexander D. Harrison1, Mark D. Tarn1,2, Ian M. Brooks1, and Benjamin J. Murray1 Grace C. E. Porter et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  • 2School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
  • 3Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Abstract. Ice-nucleating particles (INPs) affect cloud development, lifetime and radiative properties, hence it is important to know the abundance of INPs throughout the atmosphere. A critical factor in determining the lifetime and transport of INPs is their size, however very little size-resolved atmospheric INP concentration information exists. This is especially so in the free troposphere. Here we present the development and application of a radio-controlled payload capable of collecting size-resolved aerosol from a tethered balloon for the primary purpose of offline INP analysis. This payload, known as the SHARK (Selective Height Aerosol Research Kit), consists of two complementary cascade impactors for aerosol size-segregation from 0.25 to 10 µm, with an after-filter and top stage to collect particles below and above this range at flow rates up to 100 L min-1. The SHARK also contains an optical particle counter to quantify aerosol size distribution between 0.38 and 10 µm, and a radiosonde for the measurement of temperature, pressure, GPS altitude, and relative humidity. This is all housed within a weatherproof box, can be run from batteries for up to 11 h and has a total weight of 9 kg. The radio control and live data link with the radiosonde allow the user to start and stop sampling depending on meteorological conditions and height, which can, for example, allow the user to avoid sampling in very humid or cloudy air, even when the SHARK is out of sight. While the collected aerosol could, in principle, be studied with an array of analytical techniques, this study demonstrates that the collected aerosol can be analysed with an off-line droplet freezing instrument to determine size-resolved INP concentrations, activated fractions and active site densities, producing similar results to those obtained using a standard PM10 aerosol sampler when summed over the appropriate size range. Test data is presented from four contrasting locations having very different size resolved INP spectra: Hyytiälä (Southern Finland), Leeds (Northern England), Longyearbyen (Svalbard), and Cardington (Southern England).

Grace C. E. Porter et al.
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Grace C. E. Porter et al.
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