Supersaturation and Critical Size of Cloud Condensation Nuclei in Marine Stratus Clouds

Henrik Svensmark*, Martin Bødker Enghoff, Jacob Svensmark, Irina Thaler, Nir J. Shaviv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Observations of marine stratus clouds in clean air off the Californian coast reveal a functional relationship between the number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and supersaturation. Satellite-derived liquid droplet density estimates the number density of CCN. Combining the estimated supersaturation using Köhler theory, global maps of supersaturation and the critical activation size of CCN are estimated. Here, we show that high supersaturation >0.5% persists over the oceans with a critical CCN size of 25–30 nm, which is smaller than the conventional wisdom of 60 nm. Independent support for such high supersaturation in the marine cloud is obtained from CCN measurements provided by the “Atmospheric Tomography Mission.” Higher supersaturation implies smaller activation size for CCN making cloud formation more sensitive to changes in aerosol nucleation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2024GL108140
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume51
Issue number9
Number of pages9
ISSN0094-8276
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • aerosols
  • clouds
  • critical cloud condensation nuclei
  • supersaturation

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