CORDIS - EU research results

A portable instrument (PINE) for the autonomous detection of atmospheric ice nucleating particles aimed at the research, global monitoring and cloud seeding markets

Project description

Unique measurement for atmospheric ice nucleating

Atmospheric aerosol particles that can nucleate ice are commonly referred to as ice-nucleating particles, or INPs. Recent studies have confirmed that aerosol particles emitted by the oceans can act as INPs. However, the global distribution of INPs is extremely poor, due in part to the lack of instrumentation used to quantify the particles. The EU-funded CountIce project aims to develop the first instrument to automatically measure atmospheric INPs. The instrument, called PINE, allows the repeated formation of an artificial cloud and counting of resulting ice crystals that can lead to the measurement of INP concentration.


It is becoming increasingly clear that a class of atmospheric aerosol particles which catalyse ice formation have a profound impact on clouds, precipitation and climate. For example, recent research demonstrates that massive cloud systems the size of Western Europe are almost completely removed by sufficient ice nucleating particles. However, the global distribution of ice nucleating particles is extremely poorly characterised, in part due to the lack of instrumentation which can be used for the autonomous quantification of these important particles. In my ERC Consolidator grant (MarineIce) we have developed the first instrument to automatically measure atmospheric ice nucleating particles: the Portable expansion chamber for Ice Nucleating particle mEasurements (PINE). PINE allows the repeated formation of an artificial cloud and counting of resulting ice crystals which allows us to derive the ice nucleating particle concentration.

The overarching goal of CountIce is to demonstrate that the PINE chamber can indeed be used to quantify the ice nucleating particle concentration in the atmosphere while being autonomous, easy to use, have high sensitivity and low background counts, have a high time resolution, and work over a wide range of temperatures (relevant to the full spectrum of clouds that form in the Earth’s atmosphere). CountIce will therefore create value in PINE, allowing us to take the necessary steps towards commercial products which will be aimed at i) the atmospheric research community; ii) the cloud seeding community and the iii) the global atmospheric monitoring networks.

CountIce will give my team the time and resources needed to adapt and develop PINE into an instrument which meets the needs of paying customers, provide the demonstration of its use in an atmospheric observatory, produce technical marketing materials, assess significant markets and develop an evidence based business plan.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
LS2 9JT Leeds
United Kingdom

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Yorkshire and the Humber West Yorkshire Leeds
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)