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J Phys Chem A. 2012 Oct 4;116(39):9706-17. doi: 10.1021/jp3064454. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

The role of temperature in cloud droplet activation.

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Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 8208, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8208, USA.


Aerosols are prevalent in the atmosphere where they can serve as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Here we report on new CCN measurements to characterize the temperature dependence of CCN activity for single component organic aerosol and secondary organic aerosol from the reaction of α-pinene and O(3) generated in the laboratory. For compounds with a weak dependence of water activity on temperature, the critical supersaturation of the particles can be well-modeled using temperature-dependent surface tension and Köhler theory. We also demonstrate that Köhler theory is valid for sparingly soluble compounds and can quantitatively explain the temperature-dependent activation properties of adipic acid aerosol over a broad range of temperatures. Accounting for temperature-dependent surface tension strongly affects CCN activity, and we anticipate that including this effect in global and regional model simulations may significantly change the estimated aerosol indirect forcing.


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