The impact of rain on ice nuclei populations at a forested site in Colorado


Corresponding author: A. J. Prenni, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Campus Delivery 1371, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523, USA. E-mail: (


[1] It has long been known that precipitation can impact atmospheric aerosol, altering number concentrations and size-dependent composition. Such effects result from competing mechanisms: precipitation can remove particles through wet deposition, or precipitation can lead to the emission of particles through mechanical ejection, biological processes, or re-suspension from associated wind gusts. These particles can feed back into the hydrologic cycle by serving as cloud nuclei. In this study, we investigated how precipitation at a forested site impacted the concentration and composition of ice nuclei (IN). We show that ground level IN concentrations were enhanced during rain events, with concentrations increasing by up to a factor of 40 during rain. We also show that a fraction of these IN were biological, with some of the IN identified using DNA sequencing. As these particles get entrained into the outflow of the storm, they may ultimately reach cloud levels, impacting precipitation of subsequent storms.