Ice-nucleating particles in precipitation samples from the Texas Panhandle

Hemanth S.K. Vepuri, Cheyanne A. Rodriguez, Dimitrios G. Georgakopoulos, Dustin Hume, James Webb, Gregory D. Mayer, Naruki Hiranuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Ice-nucleating particles (INPs) influence the formation of ice crystals in clouds and many types of precipitation. This study reports unique properties of INPs collected from 42 precipitation samples in the Texas Panhandle region from June 2018 to July 2019. We used a cold stage instrument called the West Texas Cryogenic Refrigerator Applied to Freezing Test system to estimate INP concentrations per unit volume of air (nINP) through immersion freezing in our precipitation samples with our detection capability of > 0.006 INPL-1. A disdrometer was used for two purposes: (1) to characterize the ground-level precipitation type and (2) to measure the precipitation intensity as well as size of precipitating particles at the ground level during each precipitation event. While no clear seasonal variations of nINP values were apparent, the analysis of yearlong ground-level precipitation observation as well as INPs in the precipitation samples showed some INP variations, e.g., the highest and lowest nINP values at-25 °C both in the summer for hailinvolved severe thunderstorm samples (3.0 to 1130 INPL-1), followed by the second lowest at the same temperature from one of our snow samples collected during the winter (3.2 INPL-1). Furthermore, we conducted bacteria community analyses using a subset of our precipitation samples to examine the presence of known biological INPs. In parallel, we also performed metagenomics characterization of the bacterial microbiome in suspended ambient dust samples collected at commercial open-lot livestock facilities (cattle feedyards hereafter) in the Texas Panhandle (i.e., the northernmost counties of Texas, also known as "West Texas") to ascertain whether local cattle feedyards can act as a source of bioaerosol particles and/or INPs found in the precipitation samples. Some key bacterial phyla present in cattle feedyard samples appeared in precipitation samples. However, no known ice nucleation active species were detected in our samples. Overall, our results showed that cumulative nINP in our precipitation samples below-20 °C could be high in the samples collected while observing > 10 mmh-1 precipitation with notably large hydrometeor sizes and an implication of cattle feedyard bacteria inclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4503-4520
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 24 2021


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