Research & Teaching Faculty

Ice-nucleating particles at a coastal tropical site

TitleIce-nucleating particles at a coastal tropical site
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLadino, LA, Raga, GB, Alvarez-Ospina, H, Adino-Enríquez, MA, Rosas, I, Martínez, L, Salinas, E, Miranda, J, Ramríez-Díaz, Z, Figueroa, B, Chou, C, Bertram, AK, Quintana, ET, Maldonado, LA, García-Reynoso, A, Si, M, Irish, VE
Date PublishedMAY 2019

Atmospheric aerosol particles that can nucleate ice are referred to as ice-nucleating particles (INPs). Recent studies have confirmed that aerosol particles emitted by the oceans can act as INPs. This very relevant information can be included in climate and weather models to predict the formation of ice in clouds, given that most of them do not consider oceans as a source of INPs. Very few studies that sample INPs have been carried out in tropical latitudes, and there is a need to evaluate their availability to understand the potential role that marine aerosol may play in the hydrological cycle of tropical regions.

This study presents results from the first measurements obtained during a field campaign conducted in the tropical village of Sisal, located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico in January–February 2017, and one of the few data sets currently available at such latitudes (i.e., 21N). Aerosol particles sampled in Sisal are shown to be very efficient INPs in the immersion freezing mode, with onset freezing temperatures in some cases as high as −3C, similarly to the onset temperature from Pseudomonas syringae. The results show that the INP concentration in Sisal was higher than at other locations sampled with the same type of INP counter. Air masses arriving in Sisal after the passage of cold fronts have surprisingly higher INP concentrations than the campaign average, despite their lower total aerosol concentration.

The high concentrations of INPs at warmer ice nucleation temperatures (T>−15C) and the supermicron size of the INPs suggest that biological particles may have been a significant contributor to the INP population in Sisal during this study. However, our observations also suggest that at temperatures ranging between −20 and −30C mineral dust particles are the likely source of the measured INPs.