Particle Formation in the Upper Tropical Troposphere: A Source of Nuclei for the Stratospheric Aerosol

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Science  08 Dec 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5242, pp. 1650-1653
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5242.1650


Atmospheric measurements and numerical calculations described here indicate that binary homogeneous nucleation of H2SO4-H2O particles occurs in the upper tropical troposphere. Particle concentrations decrease with increasing altitude above the tropical tropopause as a result of coagulation during the upward air transport produced by stratospheric circulations. During the extended periods of time that volcanic eruptions do not strongly influence stratospheric particle number concentrations, particles formed in the upper tropical troposphere provide nuclei upon which oxidized sulfur gases condense in the stratosphere. This particle source, coupled with aerosol microphysical properties and atmospheric transport, governs the number concentration of particles in the lower tropical and mid-latitude stratosphere.