EGU24-14768, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) activity of sub-micron aerosols during the Southwest Monsoon over a pristine site in the Western Ghats, India

Aishwarya Singh1,2, Kavyashree Kalkura1,2, Rameshchand Ka3, Ravikrishna Raghunathan2,4, Ulrich Poschl5, Hang Su5,6,7, James Allan8,9, Gordon Mcfiggans8, Meinrat Andreae5,10,11, Scot Martin12,13, Hugh Coe8, Pengfei Liu14, and Sachin Gunthe1,2
Aishwarya Singh et al.
  • 1Environmental Engineering Division, Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India (
  • 2Centre for Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India
  • 3Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering Munnar, Munnar, India
  • 4Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India
  • 5Multiphase Chemistry Department, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 6State Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment and Extreme Meteorology, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 7State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Formation and Prevention of Urban Air Pollution Complex, Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences, Shanghai, China
  • 8Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, School of Natural Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K.
  • 9National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K.
  • 10Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, U.S.A.
  • 11Department of Geology and Geophysics, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • 12Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.
  • 13John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.
  • 14School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, U.S.A.

Aerosols, with their direct and indirect effects impacting the climate, have been established to significantly perturb Earth's radiative budget and hydrological cycle. The climate impact of aerosols is complex and multifaceted, with various factors influencing the combined net effect. The intricacies of aerosol effects, mainly through aerosol-cloud interactions, necessitate precise measurements to reduce the uncertainty in forecasting future climate fluctuations1. Studying their characteristics in pristine settings can provide an enhanced scientific understanding of aerosol impact in background conditions, as opposed to polluted ones2. With this motivation, we conducted a comprehensive field measurement campaign during the second phase of the COVID-induced lockdown in Munnar, a relatively clean high-altitude site in the Western Ghats of India. Munnar is surrounded by lush tea plantations and extensive forest reserves, and tea production and tourism are the major human activities in the area. However, suspended tourist activities due to the pandemic and frequent precipitation during monsoon enabled us to study the ambient aerosol characteristics in near-natural conditions3. This study presents results from the size-resolved Cloud Condensation Nuclei (SR-CCN) measurements conducted along with aerosol size distribution and chemical composition at the Natural Aerosol and Bioaerosol High Altitude Laboratory (NABHA; 10.09 N, 77.06 E; 1605m asl) during the Southwest Monsoon season between June-October 2021. The median number concentration for 10–450nm particles was observed to be 533cm-3, with 357cm-3and 908cm-3 as first and third quartiles, respectively, similar to other pristine locations, such as Amazonia during the wet season4. The average non-refractory particulate matter (NR-PM1) concentration was 2.28±1.81 µg/m3 (mean ± one standard deviation). The SR-CCN measurements were carried out for set supersaturations between 0.1% and 0.85% for particles ranging between 20-350 nm in diameter. The critical dry diameter varied from 60 to 150nm for highest to lowest supersaturation, similar to previously reported studies elsewhere4,5. During the campaign, the efficiency spectra of CCN often reached unity despite organic aerosols dominating the submicron aerosol composition.

Further, hygroscopicity, a particle size and composition function, was investigated using the kappa-Köhler theory. The hygroscopicity parameter, kappa, derived from SR-CCN measurements(kCCN) varied between 0.26 and 0.57. kCCN did not exhibit much variation in the Aitken mode regime (60-80nm) but increased in the accumulation mode (100-160nm), suggesting higher hygroscopic fraction in larger (aged) particles. Assuming a linear mixing of organic and inorganic aerosols, chemically derived hygroscopicity (kchem) was comparable to kCCN, following similar diurnal variation. Further details will be presented.


1.Lohmann, U. & Ferrachat, S. Impact of parametric uncertainties on the present-day climate and on the anthropogenic aerosol effect. AtmosChemPhys (2010).

2.Andreae, M. O. Aerosols Before Pollution. Science (2007).

3.Navasakthi, S., Pandey, A., Bhari, J. S. & Sharma, A. Significant variation in air quality in South Indian cities during COVID-19 lockdown and unlock phases. EnvironMonitAssess (2023).

4.Gunthe, S. S. et al. Cloud condensation nuclei in pristine tropical rainforest air of Amazonia: size-resolved measurements and modeling of atmospheric aerosol composition and CCN activity. AtmosChemPhys (2009).

5.Singh, A. et al. Rapid growth and high cloud-forming potential of anthropogenic sulfate aerosol in a thermal power plant plume during COVID lockdown in India. NPJClimAtmosSci (2023).

How to cite: Singh, A., Kalkura, K., Ka, R., Raghunathan, R., Poschl, U., Su, H., Allan, J., Mcfiggans, G., Andreae, M., Martin, S., Coe, H., Liu, P., and Gunthe, S.: Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) activity of sub-micron aerosols during the Southwest Monsoon over a pristine site in the Western Ghats, India, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-14768,, 2024.