Leeds Centre for Crystallization

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PhD positions

The seeds of ice in clouds

Ben Murray, Liane Benning (School of Earth and Environment) and John Morris (Asymptote Ltd)

Ice formation in clouds is of central importance to life on Earth since it is a key process in the formation of precipitation and strongly influences the radiative properties of clouds. Despite its importance, the formation of ice remains one of the least well understood aspects of cloud formation.

It is well known that ice melts at 0oC, but it is less well understood that cloud water droplets can supercool to temperatures approaching -36oC unless as special particle type is present. This special particle type, known as an ice nucleating particle (INP), can trigger or seed droplet freezing at much higher temperatures, but only about 1 in a million aerosol particles in the atmosphere is capable of serving as an INP. It is this inherent rarity that makes INP’s and ice formation such an exciting and challenging field. 

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