Dense Fog in the Netherlands: Composition of the Nuclei that Contribute Most to the Droplet Number Concentration


  • S. Crumeyrolle

    LOA–Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphérique, CNRS, UMR 8518, Univ. Lille, Lille, 59000, France

  • P. Schlag

    Institute for Energy and Climate Research IEK-8: Troposphere, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, 52425, Germany

  • H. M. Ten Brink

    Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) Part of TNO, 1755 ZG Petten, The Netherlands

Received: 30 March 2024; Revised: 26 May 2024; Accepted: 29 May 2024; Published Online: 11 June 2024


Dense fogs, with a visibility of less than 200 m, form a traffic hazard. Usually, models describing their formation use observations at the Cabauw super-site in the Netherlands for evaluation. A key parameter is the number of fog droplets and thus the number of aerosol particles on which the fog droplets form, the so-called fog nuclei (FN). No observational data are available for this key microphysical feature. An assumption is that this number scales with the concentration of the hygroscopic aerosol component sulfate. However, in the Netherlands nitrate and organics are the more important components of the total aerosol and thus possibly also of the FN. This short communication provides the first actual data via measurements with an aerosol mass spectrometer—AMS—for a period with dense fog events observed in November 2011. The aerosol in the relevant size range was composed of about half of the hygroscopic ammonium nitrate/sulfate. The other half consisted of organics; the low O/C ratio indicated that these compounds are rather hydrophobic; the hygroscopicity factor kappa of this mix was estimated at 0.3. This value implies that the activation diameter (the lowest diameter of the FN) was at least 150 nm. The mass distribution was converted into a number distribution which showed a sharp decrease as a function of size for diameters above this threshold. This result implies that the vast majority of the FN have diameters to the activation diameter. These smallest FN contained ammonium nitrate as the major hygroscopic compound. Currently, data for other dense fogs are evaluated to search for a possible generality of this finding.


AMS; Ammonium nitrate; Organics; Hygroscopicity factor; Activation diameter


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How to Cite

Crumeyrolle, S., Schlag, P., & M. Ten Brink, H. (2024). Dense Fog in the Netherlands: Composition of the Nuclei that Contribute Most to the Droplet Number Concentration. Journal of Atmospheric Science Research, 7(3), 39–43.


Article Type

Short Communication