Isolating and identifying atmospheric ice-nucleating aerosols: a new technique
Laboratory studies examined two key aspects of the performance of a continuous-flow diffusion chamber (CFD) instrument that detects ice nuclei (IN) concentrations in air samples: separating IN from non-IN, and collecting IN aerosols to determine chemical composition. In the first study, submicron AgI IN particles were mixed in a sample stream with submicron non-IN salt particles, and the sample stream was processed in the CFD at −19°C and 23% supersaturation with respect to ice. Examination of the residual particles from crystals nucleated in the CFD confirmed that only AgI particles served as IN in the mixed stream. The second study applied this technique to separate and analyze IN and non-IN particles in a natural air sample. Energy-dispersive X-ray analyses (EDS) of the elemental composition of selected particles from the IN and non-IN fractions in ambient air showed chemical differences: Si and Ca were present in both, but S, Fe and K were also detected in the non-IN fraction.