Aircraft-based Laser ABlation Aerosol MAss spectrometer (ALABAMA)

The ALABAMA in its first HALO rack configuration (2010). Picture: J. Schneider, MPIC.

The ALABAMA is a single particle laser ablation instrument that was developed especially for aircraft operation onboard the new German research aircraft HALO. A novel Z-ToF mass spectrometer developed by TOFWERK allows a compact 19" design, making the instrument suitable for one HALO rack. First laboratory tests were carried out in summer 2008 and first measurements were performed in the VI-ACI project at the AIDA chamber in October 2008. The first aircraft mission (MEGAPOLI) was performed in July 2009. Further laboratory measurements at the ADIA chamber within VI-ACI (October 2009) and BIO-05 (March 2010) followed. Several ground based field measurements investigating the composition of aerosol particles and cloud residuals were conducted since then (HCCT, PRADACS, ACRIDICON-Zugspitze, INUIT). Further aircraft-based missions were FENNEC (BAe146, 2011) and VERDI (Polar 5, 2012). After several modification with the objective to increase detection and ablation rate, ALABAMA was successfully operated on HALO during ML-CIRRUS (March/April 2014). In July 2014 ALABAMA was operated on the Polar 6 out of Resolute, Canada, during NETCARE, and in August 2015 on Polar 5 during THETIS/Baltic Sea 2015. Within the INUIT project, two ground based field campaigns were conducted in 2016 (Cyprus, April) and 2017 (Jungfraujoch, Jan/Feb). In May/June 2017, ALABAMA was operated on the Polar 6 aircraft during the ACLOUD mission (Longyearbyen, Svalbard). After further modifications (new aerodynamic lens, delayed extraction) we operated ALABAMA in August 2018 during the HALO mission CAFE-AFRICA and during CIRRUS-HL in 2021. Further aircraft-based missions (HALO, Polar 5/6) are planned for the coming years.

The ALABAMA in its current configuration in HALO during CAFE-Africa (2018). Picture: J. Schneider, MPIC.

Selected publications:

Schneider, J., Weigel, R., Klimach, T., Dragoneas, A., Appel, O., Hünig, A., Molleker, S., Köllner, F., Clemen, H.-C., Eppers, O., Hoppe, P., Hoor, P., Mahnke, C., Krämer, M., Rolf, C., Grooß, J.-U., Zahn, A., Obersteiner, F., Ravegnani, F., Ulanovsky, A., Schlager, H., Scheibe, M., Diskin, G. S., DiGangi, J. P., Nowak, J. B., Zöger, M., and Borrmann, S.: Aircraft-based observation of meteoric material in lower-stratospheric aerosol particles between 15 and 68° N, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 21, 989–1013,, 2021.

Clemen, H.-C., Schneider, J., Klimach, T., Helleis, F., Köllner, F., Hünig, A., Rubach, F., Mertes, S., Wex, H., Stratmann, F., Welti, A., Kohl, R., Frank, F., and Borrmann, S.: Optimizing the detection, ablation, and ion extraction efficiency of a single-particle laser ablation mass spectrometer for application in environments with low aerosol particle concentrations, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 13, 5923–5953,, 2020.

Köllner, F., Schneider, J., Willis, M. D., Klimach, T., Helleis, F., Bozem, H., Kunkel, D., Hoor, P., Burkart, J., Leaitch, W. R., Aliabadi, A. A., Abbatt, J. P. D., Herber, A. B., and Borrmann, S.: Particulate trimethylamine in the summertime Canadian high Arctic lower troposphere, Atmos. Chem. Phys.,17, 13747-13766,, 2017.

Schmidt, S., Schneider, J., Klimach, T., Mertes, S., Schenk, L. P., Kupiszewski, P., Curtius, J., and Borrmann, S.: Online single particle analysis of ice particle residuals from mountain-top mixed-phase clouds using laboratory derived particle type assignment, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 575-594, doi:10.5194/acp-17-575-2017, 2017.

Roth, A., Schneider, J., Klimach, T., Mertes, S., van Pinxteren, D., Herrmann, H., and Borrmann, S.: Aerosol properties, source identification, and cloud processing in orographic clouds measured by single particle mass spectrometry on a central European mountain site during HCCT-2010, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 505-524, doi:10.5194/acp-16-505-2016, 2016.

Brands, M., M. Kamphus, T. Böttger, J. Schneider, F. Drewnick, A. Roth, J. Curtius, C. Voigt, A. Borbon, M. Beekmann, A. Bourdon, T. Perrin, and S. Borrmann: Characterization of a Newly Developed Aircraft-Based Laser Ablation Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (ALABAMA) and First Field Deployment in Urban Pollution Plumes over Paris During MEGAPOLI 2009, Aerosol Sci. Technol., 45, 46-64, doi: 10.1080/02786826.2010.517813, 2011.



The development of ALABAMA was funded by the DFG SPP 1294 “HALO”, the Earth System Science Research Centre “Geocycles”, the DFG research unit INUIT (FOR 1525), and by the Max Planck Society.

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