Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Cloud condensation nuclei activity, closure, and droplet growth kinetics of Houston aerosol during the Gulf of Mexico Atmospheric Composition and Climate Study (GoMACCS)



[1] In situ cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) measurements were obtained in the boundary layer over Houston, Texas, during the 2006 Gulf of Mexico Atmospheric Composition and Climate Study (GoMACCS) campaign onboard the CIRPAS Twin Otter. Polluted air masses in and out of cloudy regions were sampled for a total of 22 flights, with CCN measurements obtained for 17 of these flights. In this paper, we focus on CCN closure during two flights, within and downwind of the Houston regional plume and over the Houston Ship Channel. During both flights, air was sampled with particle concentrations exceeding 25,000 cm−3 and CCN concentrations exceeding 10,000 cm−3. CCN closure is evaluated by comparing measured concentrations with those predicted on the basis of measured aerosol size distributions and aerosol mass spectrometer particle composition. Different assumptions concerning the internally mixed chemical composition result in average CCN overprediction ranging from 3% to 36% (based on a linear fit). It is hypothesized that the externally mixed fraction of the aerosol contributes much of the CCN closure scatter, while the internally mixed fraction largely controls the overprediction bias. On the basis of the droplet sizes of activated CCN, organics do not seem to impact, on average, the CCN activation kinetics.