Studying Aerosol Processes in Antarctica

During the first months of this year, the INAR (Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research) has organised a measurement campaign in Antarctica, in collaboration with the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN, Argentina) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI, Finland).

Spotted in the very north of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Seymour Island, is the Base Marambio (64° 14’ 41’’ S, 56° 37’ 53’’ W, see the map below), which belongs to Argentina. The air to the station can come from open ocean, Weddell sea or vast inland areas depending on the wind direction. This makes the atmospheric studies at Base Marambio very interesting and we can make measurements that represent different environments of the Antarctic continent.

Photo credit: L.L.J. Quéléver

Our aim was to investigate what triggers the formation of smallest aerosol particles. In addition to the permanent measurements on the site, we have established the (CI-)APi-TOF mass spectrometer that can identify the composition of gas-phase molecules and molecular clusters as well as particle counters (NAIS and PSM) for measurement of concentration of atmospheric ions and smallest aerosol particles.

Take a look inside the measurement container:

Photo credit: L.L.J. Quéléver

Within about one month of measurement, we observed more than 12 events with formation and/or growth of aerosol particles and molecular clusters.

Using chemical composition of the gas-phase molecules coupled with meteorological measurement, we will be able to

1. identify the vapours that form and grow aerosol particles as observed at Base Marambio

2. identify the sources of those vapours based on the regional ecosystems


3. hopefully, extend our findings to similar environments.

Preliminary results showed frequent new particle formation events and growth to larger sizes.

”Despite, all the peripeteia to reach the final destination (a month later than expected) and hard times with the instruments, the campaign was an amazing experience! The data really look promising! ” - Lauriane

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