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Surface composition of atmospheric particles favors cloud formation

Surface composition of atmospheric particles favors cloud formation

The existence of amphiphilic surfactants in fine particles need to take into account when the global aerosol-cloud interaction processes are modelled.

Atmospheric aerosols impact the climate by acting as cloud seeds that enable the cloud formation. Recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology as a cover story indicates that a fraction of the aerosol particles have a surface composition that favors the cloud droplet activation.

The aerosol particles at different environments i.e. remote (Pallas, Finland), coastal (Rogoznica, Croatia) and urban (Lyon, France) areas contained significant amounts of surfactant compounds, which advance cloud formation. The result implies that these compounds which decrease particle surface tension are relatively common. Surfactants can have a significant impact on the ability of the aerosol particles to form clouds and further on the cloud properties. The result needs to be considered in modelling the global aerosol-cloud interaction processes.

Scientists from France, United States, Norway, Croatia and Finland (Finnish Meteorological Institute) took part in the published research.

The aerosol-cloud interaction processes have been studied for several years in the Pallas research station in western Lapland. The Arctic climate is very sensitive to changes in cloudiness and in aerosol particles. The northern measurements of the Finnish Meteorological Institute aim at decreasing the large uncertainties related with these changes.

Further information:

Senior Scientist Eija Asmi, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 390 6638,

The reference:

Violaine Gérard, Barbara Noziere, Ludovic Fine, Corinne Ferronato, Dharmendra Kumar Singh, Amanda A. Frossard, Ronald C. Cohen, Eija Asmi, Heikki Lihavainen, Niku Kivekäs, Minna Aurela, David Brus, Sanja Frka, and Ana Cvitešić Kušan: Concentrations and Adsorption Isotherms for Amphiphilic Surfactants in PM1 Aerosols from Different Regions of Europe, Environmental Science & Technology 2019 53 (21), 12379-12388, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b03386

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