In situ measurements

Condensation particles

Condensation particles (CP) comprise all atmospheric particles which can act as nuclei for condensation of low volatile gase­ous compounds like organic species (biogenic or from any combustion process), organic and mineral acids which are both reaction products of atmospheric photooxidation pro­cessses and most notably water vapour. Generally particles >3 nm in diameter can act as condensation nuclei. Especially particles within the accumulation mode (particle diameter 0.1-2.5 µm) can act as efficient cloud condensation nuclei and play an important role in cloud formation. The latter fact em­phasizes the crucial role of aerosols in determining atmo­spheric radiation transfer. CP concentrations at Neumayer exhibit a stepwise increase from polar winter (below 100 particles cm-3) to a maximum in late austral summer of around 1000 particles cm-3.

During summer the chemical composition of these particles is mainly MSA and nss-sulfate, thus CN are formed in the marine tro­posphere by photooxidation of DMS emitted by the phyto­plankton. During winter and stormy weather conditions, how­ever, sea salt dominates the aerosol mass. Interestingly, the maximum of condensation particle concentration typically appears in late February to early March, i.e. shifted by around 4-6 weeks compared to the MSA and nss-sulfate maxima. Our measurements suggest that during late summer the con­centration of very small particles between 3-5 nm diameter (nucleation mode) is significantly enhanced, indicating new particle formation. DMS could act via its photooxidation pro­duct sulphuric acid as gaseous precursor for nucleation mode particles, a process known as gas to particle conversion.

Due to the relatively short atmospheric lifetime (a few hours) of nucleation mode particles, regional sources should dominate the measured signal. We believe that following the retreat of sea-ice in the nearby Atka Bay during late February, consider­able amounts of DMS are released by the now emerging phytoplankton bloom in this area. Note that nucleation mode particles do not contribute much to the total aerosol mass due to their small size, therefore nss-sulfate and MSA concentra­tion maxima do not necessarily coincide with the particle number concentration maximum! Details regarding the sampling method can be found here...

As an example, the particle size distribution in the range between 0.005 µm and 5 µm throughout the year 2018 is shown in the contour plot below. Put in a nutshell, austral summer is dominated by higher total aerosol number concentrations with mean particle diameters around 0.1 µm (mainly biogenic sulphur aerosol, i.e. non sea salt sulphate and methanesulphonate), while during polar night, very often larger particles (predominantly sea salt aerosol) between 200 nm and 2 µm, but lower total number concentrations are typical. The figure shows a 3D contour plot of the particle size distribution dN/dlogDp (cm-3) with a dlogN/dlogDp (cm-3) scale as z-axis (logarithmic colour scale to the right). Presented data are one-hour averages based on the originally size distribution spectra taken in 10-minute intervals; doy is day of the year 2018. Details regarding the sampling method can be found here. Data archived in PANGAEA are available here: for Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS) and Laser Aerosol Spectrometer (LAS3340).

To give an impression on the dynamics of the size distribution, see this short video animation. Presented are the particle size distributions in the range from 5 nm to 5000 nm (0.005 µm to 5 µm; measured by the SMPS (blue) and LAS3340 (red); size resolution 64 bins per decade) in a double logarithmic plot for the period 1. January 2022 (doy = 1) through 28. April 2022 (doy = 118).


Weller, R., A. Minikin, D. Wagenbach, and V. Dreiling, Characterization of the inter‑annual, seasonal, and diurnal variations of condensation particle concentrations at Neumayer, Antarctica. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics., Copernicus Publications, 11, pp. 13243‑13257. doi: 10.5194/acp‑11‑13243‑2011, 2011.

Weller, R., Schmidt, K., Teinilä, K., and Hillamo, R.: Natural new particle formation at the coastal Antarctic site Neumayer, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 11399-11410, doi:10.5194/acp-15-11399-2015, 2015.


Surface ozone

It is generally accepted that the photooxidation of trace gases to water soluble compounds, followed by rainout, is the major cleaning procedure of tropospheric air. Photooxidation in the troposphere consists of typical radical chain reactions which need to be initiated, mainly by OH radicals. OH in turn is pri­marily generated via ozone photolysis and subsequent reac­tion of the so produced O1D (i.e. electronically excited oxy­gen) atoms with water vapour. Thus tropospheric ozone is certainly a key trace gas in controlling the chemical composi­tion of the troposphere. Surface ozone is continuously meas­ured since 1982 at Neumayer (GvN) by electro-chemical concentration cells (ECC, until 1994) and uv-absorption from 1994 ongoing. Ozone mixing ratios measured at the former GvN Station by ECC seem to be significantly lower before 1987, a probably artificial peculiarity which is not yet clarified. Nevertheless from this record, covering now more than 30 years of observation (the figure to the left shows an overview, based on monthly mean values), no significant trend can be deduced. A more detailed section of this times series is depicted in the central figure, based on daily mean values. Maximum ozone values of about 32 ppbv are generally observed in August while during polar summer (December-January) a distinct minimum of around 13 ppbv is typical. In strong contrast to urban areas where nitrogen oxides (NOx) levels are about three orders of magnitude higher, photo­chemical ozone destruction and not formation occurs in summer leading to surface ozone minima in pristine regions like Antarctica. In addition, from August to September extraordinary tropospheric ozone depletion events can fre­quently be detected (figure to the right, enlargement of the red area, now based on hourly mean values) which are not visible in the monthly mean data series to the left. Comparable to stratospheric ozone depletion, reactive halogen compounds, are responsible for this anomaly. However, in contrast to the chemical processes occurring in the stratosphere, tropospheric ozone depletion in polar regions is a natural phenomenon most probably caused by release of reactive bromine compounds eventually derived from sea-salt over sea-ice.


Wessel, S., S. Aoki, P. Winkler, R. Weller, A. Herber, H. Gernandt and O. Schrems, Tropospheric ozone depletion in polar regions: A comparison of observations in the Arctic and Antarctic. Tellus, 50B, 34-50, 1998.

Frieß, U., J. Hollwedel, G. König-Langlo, T. Wagner, and U. Platt, Dynamics and chemistry of tropospheric bromine explosion events in the Antarctic coastal region, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D06305, doi:10.1029/2003JD004133, 2004.



Black carbon

Continuous black carbon (BC) observations were conducted from 1999 through 2009 by an aethalometer (AE10: black line). From 2006 ongoing by a Multi-Angle Absorption Photometer (MAAP: red line; details regarding the procedure can be found here) and an aethalometer AE33 (installed 2019, blue line; details regarding the procedure can be found here). Considering the respective observation period, BC concentrations measured by the MAAP were somewhat higher (median ± standard deviation: 2.1±2.0 ng/m3) compared to the AE10 results (1.6±2.1 ng/m3). Neither for the aethalometer nor for the MAAP data set a significant long-term trend could be detected. Consistently a pronounced seasonality was observed with both instruments showing a primary annual maximum between October and November and a minimum in April. Occasionally a secondary summer maximum in January/February was visible.


Weller, R., A. Minikin, A. Petzold, D. Wagenbach, and G. König‑Langlo, Characterization of long‑term and seasonal variations of black carbon (BC) concentrations at Neumayer, Antarctica, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, COPERNICUS GESELLSCHAFT MBH, 13, pp. 1579‑1590. doi:10.5194/acp-13-1579-2013.

Legrand, M., Weller, R., Preunkert, S. and Jourdain, B. (2021): Ammonium in Antarctic aerosol: Marine biological activity versus long‑range transport of biomass burning, Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL092826. doi: 10.1029/2021GL092826




Rn activity concentrations are measured by on-line alpha spectroscopy of 222Rn decay products at Neumayer by the IUP-Heidelberg (PI: Ingeborg Levin). The radioactive isotope 222Rn is a decay product of 238U and 232Th with a radioactive half-life time of 3.82 days. The main source is emission of 222Rn from terrestrial soil, while the oceanic source strength (with two order of magnitude lower emission rates) can usually considered as negligible. However, in case of Neumayer continental sources are far away and our measurements indicate that oceanic emissions significantly contribute to the measured signal and especially to the seasonal maximum in late summer after retreat of the sea ice.


R. Weller, I. Levin, D. Schmithüsen, M. Nachbar, J. Asseng, and D. Wagenbach, On the variability of atmospheric 222Rn activity concentrations measured at Neumayer, coastal Antarctica, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3843-3853, doi: doi:10.5194/acp-14-3843-2014, 2014.