Predicting abundance and variability of ice nucleating particles in precipitation at the high-altitude observatory Jungfraujoch
Atmospheric chemistry and physics
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Nucleation of ice affects the properties of clouds and the formation of precipitation. Quantitative data on how ice nucleating particles (INPs) determine the distribution, occurrence and intensity of precipitation are still scarce. INPs active at −8 °C (INPs −8 ) were observed for 2 years in precipitation samples at the High-Altitude Research Station Jungfraujoch (Switzerland) at 3580 m a.s.l. Several environmental parameters were scanned for their capability to predict the observed abundance and variability of INPs −8 . Those singularly presenting the best correlations with observed number of INPs −8 (residual fraction of water vapour, wind speed, air temperature, number of particles with diameter larger than 0.5 µm, season, and source region of particles) were implemented as potential predictor variables in statistical multiple linear regression models. These models were calibrated with 84 precipitation samples collected during the first year of observations; their predictive power was successively validated on the set of 15 precipitation samples collected during the second year. The model performing best in calibration and validation explains more than 75 % of the whole variability of INPs −8 in precipitation and indicates that a high abundance of INPs −8 is to be expected whenever high wind speed coincides with air masses having experienced little or no precipitation prior to sampling. Such conditions occur during frontal passages, often accompanied by precipitation. Therefore, the circumstances when INPs −8 could be sufficiently abundant to initiate the ice phase in clouds may frequently coincide with meteorological conditions favourable to the onset of precipitation events.