Alex Harrison

Alex Harrison


Alex graduated in 2015 with an MGeol, BSc (Hons) from the University of Leeds which included a year abroad at the Australian National University. During his undergrad he was awarded a school research scholarship during which he worked with Dr Ben Murray on the impact of feldspar mineral composition on its ice nucleating ability. He then accepted a NERC Case PhD Studentship award with Dr Ben Murray, with support from Asymptote Ltd. Alex’s current work involves the investigation of mineral dusts in the atmosphere and how they act as Ice Nucleating Particles (INP’s). Alex aims to build a new instrument which can detect low concentrations of highly active INPs in the field. Detection of these INPs is crucial for the production of global INP distribution models and Alex’s work will feed into these, improving the understanding of an important aerosol-cloud interaction where knowledge is currently lacking. He also aims to make advances in the understanding of the nature of active sites on minerals and why some minerals make such effective INP’s.

Ice nucleation and its importance in the atmosphere; the role of mineral dust in ice nucleation; Ice Nucleating Particle (INP) measuremnet technology; cryopreservation.

Ice nucleation by mineral and biological aerosol

NERC Industrial CASE Studentship with support from Asymptote Ltd

Water can supercool below -35°C without the presence of Ice Nucleating Particles (INP’s) which makes INPs important for the development of mixed phase clouds. Mineral dust is known to be a substantial source of active INPs in the atmosphere. At present our ability to accurately predict the global distribution of atmospheric mineral dust INP is limited by both a fundamental understanding of which specific components nucleate ice, how efficiently they do so and how they are processed or altered while in the atmosphere, as well as the lack of instrumentation to reliably and routinely quantify INP concentrations in the atmosphere. In my PhD project I have already begun to address questions around which feldspars are most important at nucleating ice and in the longer term I propose to build a new instrument to make direct field measurements to increase datasets for global distributions of INP.

Harrison, A. D., Whale, T. F., Carpenter, M. A., Holden, M. A., Neve, L., O'Sullivan, D., Vergara Temprado, J., and Murray, B. J.: Not all feldspars are equal: a survey of ice nucleating properties across the feldspar group of minerals, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 10927-10940, doi:10.5194/acp-16-10927-2016, 2016.

Harrison, A. D., Whale, T. F., Rutledge, R., Lamb, S., Tarn, M. D., Porter, G. C. E., Adams, M. P., McQuaid, J. B., Morris, G. J., and Murray, B. J.: An instrument for quantifying heterogeneous ice nucleation in multiwell plates using infrared emissions to detect freezing, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 5629-5641,, 2018.

Tarn, M.D., Sikora, S.N.F., Porter, G.C.E., O'Sullivan, D., Adams, M., Whale, T. F., Harrison, A. D., Vergara-Temprado, J., Wilson, T. W., Shim, J., Murray, B. J., The study of atmospheric ice-nulceating particles via microfluidically generated droplets. Microfluid Nanofluid (2018) 22: 52.

O’Sullivan, D., Adams, M. P., Tarn, M. D., Harrison, A. D., Vergara-Temprado, J., Porter, G. C. E., … Murray, B. J. (2018). Contributions of biogenic material to the atmospheric ice-nucleating particle population in North Western Europe. Scientific Reports8, 13821.



  • PhD, University of Leeds
  • MGeol, BSc Geological Sciences, University of Leeds