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Clustering Analysis of Ambient Fluorescent Bioaerosol WIBS Measurements at the Southern Great Plains Site

Bioaerosol particles are small particles suspended in the atmosphere that are of biological origin. These particles can play significant roles in various atmospheric processes. Notably, many bioaerosol particles are able to act as ice nucleating particles (INPs) by serving as scaffolds onto which ice can form in the atmosphere. To better understand how agricultural activities can impact concentrations of INPs and bioaerosol particles in the atmosphere, the Agricultural Ice Nuclei at Southern Great Plains (AGINSGP) field campaign was conducted in April of 2022 at a U.S. Department of Energy field site in Oklahoma. Bioaerosol particles were measured using a Wideband Integrated Bioaerosol Sensor (WIBS) contributed by the University of Denver, while INPs were measured with instrumentation contributed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Colorado State University.

Interpretation of ambient bioaerosol data recorded by the WIBS can prove challenging, as the data produced by the instrument is well suited for distinguishing between biological and non-biological particles, but is not as well suited for accurately distinguishing between different types of biological particles. This project aims to apply various strategies of analysis to the data collected by the WIBS in an attempt to use computational means such as machine learning algorithms to distinguish between different types of particles with the goal of estimating which types of biological particles were present in significant concentrations during the AGINSGP campaign. Preliminary analysis of the WIBS data from the AGINSGP campaign has identified the types and concentrations of bioaerosol particles present during the first week of the campaign as being markedly different from particle concentrations observed in the remaining weeks of the campaign. Computational analysis such as hierarchical agglomerative clustering is being employed to further explore the types of particles present during the campaign and how the profile of bioaerosol particles changed throughout the campaign.