Field evaluation of a Portable Fine Particle Concentrator (PFPC) for ice nucleating particle measurements

The custom-built Portable Fine Particle Concentrator (PFPC) is evaluated for the measurement of ice nucleating particles (INPs) in the atmosphere. The concentrations of INPs in remote regions of the atmosphere are very low, often close to instrumental detection limits. The PFPC is a dual slit-nozzle virtual impactor where particles are concentrated from an input flow of 250 LPM (litres per minute) into an output flow of 10 LPM. The enrichment factors (EFs) for ambient particles with diameters between 0.4 and 2.5 µm were found to be 21 ± 5 at sea level and 18 ± 2 at a field station 3580 meters above sea level for the PFPC operated in horizontal configuration. Similar enhancement factors (16 ± 5) in the concentrations of INPs measured by the Horizontal Ice Nucleation Chamber at the high-altitude station were observed when the air mass was characterized by high numbers of particles larger than 0.5 µm. When the number size distribution was dominated by particles smaller than 0.5 µm, the INP EF was considerably lower. Corroborating short-term measurements were provided by additional INP-measuring instruments, the Fast Ice Nucleus CHamber and the Frankfurt Ice Deposition Freezing Experiment. Results from two aerosol mass spectrometers also indicate significant particle enhancement using the PFPC. These results indicate that the PFPC can be usefully deployed to improve the detection efficiency of ambient INP measurements.

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