Aircraft ice-nucleating particle and aerosol composition measurements in the western North American Arctic

Alberto Sanchez-Marroquin, Sarah L. Barr, Ian T. Burke, James B McQuaid, Benjamin Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Knowledge of the temperature-dependent concentration of ice-nucleating particles (INPs) is crucial to understanding the properties of mixed-phase clouds. However, the sources, transport and removal of INPs around the globe, and particularly in the Arctic region, are poorly understood. In the Arctic winter and spring, when many local sources are covered by ice and snow, it is not clear which INP types are important. In this study, we present a new dataset of aircraft-based immersion mode INP measurements and aerosol size-resolved composition in the western North American Arctic from 11 to 21 March 2018. Aerosol samples were collected between ∼ 70 and 600 m above the surface on filters that were analysed using both a freezing droplet-based assay and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). The measured INP concentrations were at or close to the limit of detection, with concentrations at −20 ∘C of 1 L−1 or below. The size-resolved composition measurements indicates that the aerosol concentrations were low, dominated mostly by sea spray aerosol and mineral dust. Further analysis shows that mineral dust is important for the ice-nucleating properties of our samples, dominating over the sea spray aerosol particles in the four cases we analysed, suggesting that mineral dust is a relevant type of INP in the Alaskan springtime Arctic. Furthermore, the INP concentrations are more consistent with fertile soil dusts that have an ice-active biological component than what would be expected for the ice-active mineral K-feldspar alone. While we cannot rule out local high-latitude sources of dust, the relatively small size of the mineral dust implies that the dust was from distant sources.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


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