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A-LIFE Report Summary

Project ID: 640458
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - A-LIFE (Absorbing aerosol layers in a changing climate: aging, lifetime and dynamics)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Aerosols (i.e. tiny particles suspended in the air) are regularly transported in huge amounts over long distances impacting air quality, health, weather and climate thousands of kilometers downwind of the source. Aerosols affect the atmospheric radiation budget through scattering and absorption of solar radiation and through their role as cloud/ice nuclei.

In particular, light absorption by aerosol particles such as mineral dust and black carbon (BC; thought to be the second strongest contribution to current global warming after CO2) is of fundamental importance from a climate perspective because the presence of absorbing particles (1) contributes to solar radiative forcing, (2) heats absorbing aerosol layers, (3) can evaporate clouds and (4) change atmospheric dynamics.

The overall aim of A-LIFE is to investigate the properties of absorbing aerosols (in particular mineral dust – black carbon mixtures) to (1) characterize the aging and mixing of light-absorbing aerosol layers during their lifetime, to (2) assess the contribution of individual aerosol components, in particular mineral dust and BC to the radiative forcing (RF) of mixed absorbing aerosol layers, to (3) implement complex particle morphologies in RF estimates, and (4) to investigate potential links between the presence of absorbing particles, aerosol layer lifetime and removal.

To achieve the aims of A-LIFE, an innovative aircraft field experiment is conducted in the Eastern Mediterranean between 3 and 30 April 2017 (aircraft base: Cyprus), and the field data are combined with laboratory and modelling studies.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This report covers the first 5 months of the project where it was still hosted at LMU. With the end of this reporting period, the project is transferred to the new host institution UNIVIE. According to the financial plan, no expenses have been occurred in the first period yet, however, substantial preparatory work has been performed nevertheless.

In particular, we worked on Task 1.2 “Improved coarse mode aerosol sampling”, and simulated the CPSPD (Cloud Particle Spectrometer with Polarization Detection) instrument performance. The results indicated that a modified Cloud, Aerosol, and Precipitation Spectrometer (CAPS; consisting of a combination of a CAS- and a CIP-instrument) would be better suited for the detection of large super-micron aerosol particles. As a result, we decided to purchase the CAPS instrument (instead of the CPSPD) instead (the corresponding cost will be incurred in the next reporting period).

In addition, preparatory work was performed on Task 2.1 “Design, preparation and realization of the A-LIFE aircraft field experiment”. We started to get in contact with authorities to obtain permissions for science operation in foreign airspaces, and started to prepare a weather statistic necessary for detailed flight planning.

In January/February 2016, we also worked on Task 2.2 “Wind tunnel experiments testing alternative hypotheses” and performed wind tunnel experiments at the wind tunnel facility of the Mars Simulation Laboratory at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. Travel expenses were covered by other sources.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

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