EGU24-9453, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ice-nucleating particles over the Labrador Sea during the M-Phase campaigns

Mark D. Tarn1, Polly B. Foster1, Sam J. Clarke1, James B. McQuaid1, Joseph Robinson1, Erin N. Raif1, Sarah L. Barr1,2, Katherine H. Bastin1, Kathleen A. Thompson1, Zongbo Shi3, Richard Cotton4, Paul R. Field4, Keith N. Bower5, Martin W. Gallagher5, Thomas Choularton5, and Benjamin J. Murray1
Mark D. Tarn et al.
  • 1Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK (
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Leeds, UK
  • 3School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK
  • 4Met Office, Exeter, UK
  • 5Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

As the Earth warms, it is important to understand how a change in the ice:water ratio in mixed-phase clouds influences the cloud-phase feedback; a cooling effect caused by the change in albedo of the cloud. Ice-nucleating particles (INPs), aerosols that can trigger the freezing of liquid cloud droplets via heterogeneous nucleation, may regulate this cooling process by maintaining the ice contents in clouds, hence it is necessary to identify the types, sources, and concentrations of INPs to determine their contribution and better represent this in models. We undertook ship and aircraft-based INP measurement campaign in the Labrador Sea region, which features clouds that are susceptible to the effect of INPs, in 2022: (i) a cruise on the RRS Discovery, as part of a joint SEANA/M-Phase project in May-June, and (ii) a flight campaign on the FAAM BAe-146 aircraft as part of the M-Phase project in October-November that focused on northwesterly cold air outbreak (CAO) cloud systems.

During the SEANA/M-Phase ship cruise, real-time measurements of INP concentrations were taken using a Portable Ice Nucleation Experiment (PINE) expansion chamber alongside offline filter-based measurements and bulk seawater measurements. Preliminary results suggest that high INP concentrations correlated with air masses that had passed over the exposed (i.e. not snow- or ice-covered) coastline of Greenland, while lower concentrations correlated with air masses that had passed over the sea ice. These results suggest a high-latitude source of INPs not currently accounted for in models, the study of which could be crucial in understanding their influence on clouds in a changing climate.

Offline filter-based INP measurements during the FAAM aircraft campaign showed highly reproducible INP concentrations during CAO events (0.05 INP L−1 at −15 °C), with both much higher and much lower concentrations during non-CAO days. Further analysis will include further processing of the campaign data, including aerosol size distributions together with real-time INP data taken from a new online continuous flow diffusion chamber (CFDC), the Met Office Ice Nuclei Counter (INC), aboard the aircraft, together with aerosol composition analysis via scanning electron microscopy of filters, which will allow the types and sources of INPs in the Labrador Sea region to be established.

The M-Phase campaigns in the Labrador Sea have shed some light on INP properties in the region, and further processing of the data will allow determination of INP sources, activity, and relationship with aerosol size distributions. Better representation of INPs in models based on these findings will allow for reduced uncertainty in the cloud-phase feedback and its impact on climate predictions.

How to cite: Tarn, M. D., Foster, P. B., Clarke, S. J., McQuaid, J. B., Robinson, J., Raif, E. N., Barr, S. L., Bastin, K. H., Thompson, K. A., Shi, Z., Cotton, R., Field, P. R., Bower, K. N., Gallagher, M. W., Choularton, T., and Murray, B. J.: Ice-nucleating particles over the Labrador Sea during the M-Phase campaigns, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-9453,, 2024.