Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Chemical, microphysical, and optical properties of polar stratospheric clouds

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Abstract

[1] A balloonborne gondola for a comprehensive study of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) was launched on 25 January 2000 near Kiruna/Sweden. Besides an aerosol composition mass spectrometer, the gondola carried optical particle counters, two backscatter sondes, a hygrometer, and several temperature and pressure sensors. A mountain wave induced PSC was sampled between 20 and 23 km altitude. Strongly correlated PSC particle properties were detected with the different instruments. A large variability of particle types was measured in numerous PSC layers, and PSC development was followed for about two hours. Liquid ternary PSC layers were found at temperatures near the ice frost point. A large fraction of the sampled cloud layers consisted of nitric acid trihydrate (NAT) particles with a molar ratio H2O:HNO3 close to 3 at temperatures near and below the equilibrium temperature TNAT. The median radius of the NAT particle size distribution was between 0.5 and 0.75 μm at concentrations around 0.5 cm−3. Below the NAT layers and above TNAT, thin cloud layers containing a few large particles with radii up to 3.5 μm coexisted with smaller solid or liquid particles. The molar ratio in this region was found to be close to two.

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