Tropospheric New Particle Formation and the Role of Ions
- First Online:
- 432 Downloads
Aerosol particles play an important role in the Earth’s troposphere and in the climate system: They scatter and absorb solar radiation, facilitate chemical processes, and serve as condensation nuclei for the formation of clouds. Tropospheric aerosol particles are emitted from surface sources or form in situ from the gas phase. Formation from the gas phase requires concentrations of aerosol precursor molecules aggregating to form molecular clusters able to grow faster than they evaporate. This process is called nucleation. Gas phase ions can reduce the concentration of aerosol precursor molecules required for nucleation, as they greatly stabilize molecular clusters with respect to evaporation. Therefore, ions are a potential source of aerosol particles. Since atmospheric ionization carries the signal of the decadal solar cycle due to the modulation of the galactic cosmic ray intensity by solar activity, a possible connection between the solar cycle, galactic cosmic rays, aerosols, and clouds has been a long-standing focus of interest. In this paper, we provide an overview of theoretical, modeling, laboratory, and field work on the role and relevance of ions for the formation of tropospheric aerosol particles, and on subsequent effects on clouds, and discuss briefly related research needs.