Minerva Fast Track Project “Cloud Condensation Nuclei”

 Dr. Mira Pöhlker (m.pohlker@mpic.de)

Map of field activities

The interactions and effects of aerosols and clouds are among the largest uncertainties in the assessment and modeling of climate change. The number of particles serving as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and therefore the hygroscopicity of aerosol particles is crucial for the microphysics and dynamics of cloud formation and precipitation. The hygroscopic growth depends on the size, the concentration and the chemical composition of aerosol particles. The overall goal is to investigate the properties and interactions of aerosols and clouds under pristine and polluted conditions, and their influence on the Earth System and Climate.


  • Aerosol Cloud Interactions
  • Spatiotemporal distribution and microphysical properties of aerosols in the atmosphere.
  • Investigation of aerosol hygroscopic growth and CCN activation using laboratory studies, in-situ measurements, satellite observations, and numerical models.

High Altitude Long Range Research Aircraft (HALO):

The HALO aircraft at the airport of Manaus


  • ACRIDICON-CHUVA, Brazil, Sep. 2014: Aerosol, Cloud, Precipitation, and Radiation Interactions and Dynamics of Convective Cloud Systems–Cloud Processes of the Main Precipitation Systems in Brazil: A Contribution to Cloud Resolving Modeling and to the Global Precipitation Measurement.
  • EMeRGe-EU, Europe, July 2017: Effect of Megacities on the Transport and Transformation of Pollutants on the Regional to Global Scales in Europe.
  • EMeRGe-Asia, Taiwan, April 2018: Effect of Megacities on the Transport and Transformation of Pollutants on the Regional to Global Scale in Asia.
  • CAFE-Africa, Cap Verde, August 2018: Chemistry of the Atmosphere: Field Experiment in Africa.
  • CAFE-Brazil, Brazil, April 2020: Chemistry of the Atmosphere: Field Experiment in Brazil.
325 m tower at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO)


  • Dual Column Cloud Condensation Nuclei Counter (CCN-200), 1 Hz, CCN conc. for a range of supersaturations (S from 0.1 to 1.0 %) (CCN-Rack)
  • Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2), < 1 Hz, BC conc., BC core diameter, and BC coating (CCN-Rack)
  • Impactor sampling for microspectroscopic analysis (CCN-Rack)
  • Optical Particle Sizer (OPS), 1 Hz, particle number size distribution (PNSD): nominally 250-30000 nm (FASD-Rack, in development)
  • Ultra-High Aerosol Spectrometer (UHSAS), 1 Hz, PNSD: ~80-1000 nm (FASD-Rack, in development)
  • Small & Fast Integrated Mobility Spectrometer (S-FIMS), < 1 Hz, PNSD: 20 nm-100 nm; (FASD-Rack, in development)
  • Ten-CPC Battery (T-CPC), 1 Hz, PNSD: 2 nm - 20 nm (FASD-Rack, in development)


Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO):

  • The  Amazon  Tall  Tower  Observatory  (ATTO)  has  been set up in a pristine rain forest region in the central Amazon Basin, about 150 km northeast of the city of Manaus. Two 80 m towers have been operated at the site since 2012, and a 325 m tower since 2015.  ATTO Homepage, MPG ATTO Hompage

View from Ragged Point Observatory to Barbados Cloud Observatory (BCO).

Barbados Ragged Point Observatory:

  • The northern tropical atmospheric research station at Ragged Point, Barbados is located on the eastern edge of the island with direct exposure to the Atlantic Ocean.  Ragged Point is 25 m above sea level and aerosol properties are measured at a 17 m tower. Aerosol size distributions and CCN activation is measured since 2016 in cooperation with the Barbados Cloud Observatory (BCO).
  • EUREC4A:  A Field Campaign to Elucidate the Couplings Between Clouds, Convection and Circulation. The study, aims in advancing the understanding of the interplay between clouds, convection and circulation and their role in climate change.  


Selected Publications

Holanda, B. A., Pöhlker, M. L., Saturno, J., Sörgel, M., Ditas, J., Ditas, F., Wang, Q., Donth, T., Artaxo, P., Barbosa, H. M. J., Brito, J., Cheng, Y., Dollner, M., Franco, M. A., Klimach, T., Knote, C., Krüger, O. O., Fütterer, D., Jošt, V., Ma, N., Machado, L. A. T., Ming, J., Morais, F., Paulsen, H., Schlager, H., Su, H., Weinzierl, B., Walser, A., Walter, D. and Pöhlker, C.: Influx of African biomass burning aerosol during the Amazonian dry season through layered transatlantic transport of black carbon-rich smoke, (September), 1–49, 2019.

Pöhlker, C. D. Walter, H. Paulsen, T. Könemann, E. Rodiguez-Caballero, D. Moran-Zuloaga, J. Brito, S. Carbone, C. Degrendele, V. R. Després, F. Ditas, B. A. Holanda, J. W. Kaiser, G. Lammel, J. V. Lavri, J. Ming, D. Pickersgill, M. L. Pöhlker, M. Praß, N. Löbs, J. Saturno, M. Sörgel, Q. Wang, B. Weber, S. Wolff, P. Artaxo, U. Pöschl & M. O. Andreae: Land cover and its transformation in the backward trajectory footprint region of the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 19, 8425–8470, doi: doi.org/10.5194/acp-19-8425-2019, 2019.

Klingebiel, M., V. P. Ghate, A. K. Naumann, F. Ditas, M. Pöhlker, C. Pöhlker, K. Kandler, H. Konow & B. Stevens: Remote Sensing of Sea Salt Aerosol below Trade Wind Clouds, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 76, 1189-1202, doi: 10.1175/JAS-D-18-0139.1, 2019.

Kunert, A. T., M. Lamneck, F. Helleis, U. Pöschl, M. L. Pöhlker, J. Froehlich-Nowoisky: Twin-plate Ice Nucleation Assay (TINA) with infrared detection for high-throughput droplet freezing experiments with biological ice nuclei in laboratory and field samples. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques 11 (11), 6327-6337, doi: 10.5194/amt-11-6327-2018, 2018.

Pöhlker, M. L., F. Ditas, J. Saturno, T. Klimach, I. Hrabe de Angelis, A. C. Araujo, J. Brito, S. Carbone, YF Cheng, XG Chi, R. Ditz, S. S. Gunthe, B. A. Holanda, K. Kandler, J. Kesselmeier, T. Könemann, O. O. Krüger, J. V. Lavric, S. T. Martin, E. Mikhailov, D. Moran-Zuloaga, L. V. Rizzo, D. Rose, H. Su, R. Thalmann, D. Walter, J. Wang, S. Wolff, H. M. J. Barbosa, P. Artaxo, M. O. Andreae, U. Pöschl & C. Pöhlker: Long-term observations of cloud condensation nuclei over the Amazon rain forest - Part 2: Variability and characteristics of biomass burning, long-range transport, and pristine rain forest aerosols. Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics 18 (14), 10289-10331, doi: 10.5194/acp-18-10289-2018, 2018.

Schmale, J., S. Henning, S. Decesari, B. Henzing, H. Keskinen, K. Sellegri, J. Ovadnevaite, ML. Pöhlker, J. Brito, A. Bougiatioti, A. Kristensson, N. Kalivitis, I. Stavroulas, S. Carbone, A. Jefferson, M. Park, P. Schlag, Y. Iwamoto, P. Aalto, M. Aijala, N. Bukowiecki, M. Ehn, G. Frank, R. Frohlich, A. Frumau, E. Herrmann, H. Herrmann, R. Holzinger, G. Kos, M. Kulmala, N. Mihalopoulos, A. Nenes, C. O`Dowd, T. Petaja, D. Picard, C. Pöhlker, U. Pöschl, L. Poulain, A. S. H. Prevot, E. Swietlicki, M. O. Andreae, P. Artaxo, A. Wiedensohler, J. Ogren, A. Matsuki, SS. Yum, F. Stratmann, U. Baltensperger, M. Gysel: Long-term cloud condensation nuclei number concentration, particle number size distribution and chemical composition measurements at regionally representative observatories. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 18 (4), 2853-2881, doi: 10.5194/acp-18-2853-2018, 2018.

Andreae, M. O., A. Afchine, R. Albrecht, B. A. Holanda, P. Artaxo,  H. M. J. Barbosa, S. Borrmann, M. A. Ceccini, A. Costa, M. Dollner, D. Futterer, E. Jarvinen, T. Jurkat, T. Klimach, T. Könemann, C. Knote, M. Krämer, T. Krisna, L. A. T. Machado, S. Mertes, A. Minikin, C. Pöhlker, M. L. Pöhlker, U. Pöschl, D. Rosenfeld, D. Sauer, H. Schlager, M. Schnaiter, J. Schneider, C. Schulz, A. Spanu, V. B. Sperling, C. Voigt, A. Walser, J. Wang, B. Weinzierl, M. Wendisch & H. Ziereis: Aerosol characteristics and particle production in the upper troposphere over the Amazon Basin. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 18 (2), 921-61, doi: 10.5194/acp-18-921-2018, 2018.

Fan, JW., D. Rosenfeld, YW. Zhang, S. E. Giangrande, ZQ Li, L. A. T. Machado, S. T. Scot, Y. Yang, J. Wang, P. Artaxo, H. M. J. Barbosa, R. C. Braga, J. M. Comstock, Z. Feng, WH. Gao, H. B. Gomes, F. Mei, C. Pöhlker, M. L. Pöhlker, U. Pöschl & R. A. F. de Souza: Substantial convection and precipitation enhancements by ultrafine aerosol particles. Science 359, 411+-, doi: 10.1126/science.aan8461, 2018.

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