Clarifying the dominant sources and mechanisms of cirrus cloud formation

Daniel J. Cziczo, Karl D. Froyd, Corinna Hoose, Eric J. Jensen, Minghui Diao, Mark Andrew Zondlo, Jessica B. Smith, Cynthia H. Twohy, Daniel M. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

385 Scopus citations


Formation of cirrus clouds depends on the availability of ice nuclei to begin condensation of atmospheric water vapor. Although it is known that only a small fraction of atmospheric aerosols are efficient ice nuclei, the critical ingredients that make those aerosols so effective have not been established. We have determined in situ the composition of the residual particles within cirrus crystals after the ice was sublimated. Our results demonstrate that mineral dust and metallic particles are the dominant source of residual particles, whereas sulfate and organic particles are underrepresented, and elemental carbon and biological materials are essentially absent. Further, composition analysis combined with relative humidity measurements suggests that heterogeneous freezing was the dominant formation mechanism of these clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1320-1324
Number of pages5
Issue number6138
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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