Report

Particle Formation by Ion Nucleation in the Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere

Science  26 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5641, pp. 1886-1889
DOI: 10.1126/science.1087236

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Abstract

Unexpectedly high concentrations of ultrafine particles were observed over a wide range of latitudes in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Particle number concentrations and size distributions simulated by a numerical model of ion-induced nucleation, constrained by measured thermodynamic data and observed atmospheric key species, were consistent with the observations. These findings indicate that, at typical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere conditions, particles are formed by this nucleation process and grow to measurable sizes with sufficient sun exposure and low preexisting aerosol surface area. Ion-induced nucleation is thus a globally important source of aerosol particles, potentially affecting cloud formation and radiative transfer.

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