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Research Aptitude Problem 1 Scavenging of aerosol particles by ice crystals

Summary: Research Aptitude Problem 1
Scavenging of aerosol particles by ice crystals
Ice crystals, also known as single snowflakes, can serve as scavengers of aerosol
particles during snowfall precipitation events. Paleoclimate experts are very interested
in the dynamics of this scavenging process because through chemical analysis of
glacier ice core samples, it is possible to obtain information about the composition of
past atmospheres. There are two main mechanisms of ice crystal growth: vapor
diffusion and accretion of supercooled water droplets. Aerosol particles may serve as
ice nucleation and cloud condensation nuclei or may be scavenged by other routes. For
this research aptitude problem, please address the following questions:
1. Which mechanism (vapor phase vs. accretion of supercooled droplets) is generally
more effective at scavenging and why? Another way to rephrase this is which method
results in the dirtiest snow? Hint: thermophoretic diffusion and the thermodynamics of
phase change play a role.
2. It is known that chemical composition is a factor in ice crystal and cloud droplet
nucleation although the details are still under discussion. Are differences in aerosol
chemical composition important when it comes to scavenging (which happens after the
nucleation step).
3. After surveying the literature, develop an original testable hypothesis within the
general area of effects of chemistry and/or aerosol microstructure (aerosol diameter,


Source: Anisimov, Mikhail - Institute for Physical Science and Technology & Department of Chemical Engineering and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Maryland at College Park


Collections: Physics; Materials Science