Space Science Reviews

, Volume 137, Issue 1–4, pp 225–239 | Cite as

Atmospheric Ions and Aerosol Formation

  • Frank ArnoldEmail author
Open Access


This paper discusses atmospheric ions and their role in aerosol formation. Emphasis is placed upon the upper troposphere where very low temperatures tend to facilitate new particle formation by nucleation. New measurements addressed include: Laboratory measurements of cluster ions, aircraft measurements of ambient atmospheric ions, atmospheric measurements of the powerful nucleating gas H2SO4 and its gaseous precursor SO2. The paper also discusses model simulations of aerosol formation and growth. It is concluded that in the upper troposphere new aerosol formation via ions is a frequent process with relatively large rates. However new particle formation by homogeneous nucleation which does not involve ions also seems to be efficient. The bottleneck in the formation of upper troposphere aerosol particles with sizes sufficiently large to be climate relevant is mostly not nucleation but sufficient growth of new and still very small particles. Our recent upper troposphere SO2 measurements suggest that particle growth by gaseous sulphuric acid condensation can be efficient in certain circumstances. If so, cosmic ray mediated formation of CCN sized particles should at least occasionally be operative in the upper troposphere.


Atmosphere Ions Aerosol 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Physics DivisionMax Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK)HeidelbergGermany

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