March 3rd, 2017 – Ny-Ålesund, 79°N. Maybe one of the most beautiful places on Earth, certainly among the coldest… But surprisingly, when walking outside with -15°C, the small “cloud” that usually forms when breathing in such cold temperatures never appears. This might be a sign of the exceptional cleanliness of the site, where aerosol particles onto which water vapour condense to form the expected cloud seem to be missing. This assumption is supported by the measurements that have started at the beginning of the month in Svalbard. Particle counters can barely detect a few hundreds of particles, while concentrations in urban atmosphere frequently reach several tens of thousands of particles. Our main objective is now to provide information on the origin of these particles. Given their small sizes (few tens of nanometers), they are likely to be formed through gas to particle conversion, including especially nucleation and subsequent growth of nanometer sized clusters. But who are the gaseous compounds involved in these processes in such a unique environment? Our particle counters and mass spectrometers have started their investigation!
– Clemence & Jani.
The expedition runs until fall 2017. We will keep you updated with news and experiences from time to time.