Will H. Cantrell

Will H. Cantrell


Associate Professor, Physics

Director, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)

  • PhD, University of Alaska Fairbanks


Why does water in Earth's atmosphere condense into cloud droplets when and where it does, and why does that water sometimes freeze? Those questions are the broad motivation for my research here over the past 10 years. Water in the atmosphere will not start freezing unless it's really cold (about -36 C) or unless it is catalyzed by some foreign substance like mineral dust or certain bacteria. One of the most puzzling aspects of the latter case is that it seems if the mineral dust is at the surface, the water freezes more readily than if the dust is immersed within the water. My students and I are trying to understand this phenomenon, called contact freezing, by conducting controlled, laboratory experiments in an attempt to isolate the most important physical and chemical characteristics of the particles that catalyze the phase transition. I am also a member of the Michigan Tech team designing a chamber that will be able to simulate cloud conditions in a turbulent environment, a one-of-a-kind facility that will enable us to investigate some of the most stubborn and vexing problems in cloud physics and chemistry.


  • Atmospheric Science

Recent Publications

  • Niehaus, J., K. W. Bunker, S. China, A. Kostinski, C. Mazzoleni, and W. Cantrell, A Technique to Measure Ice Nuclei in the Contact Mode. J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 31, 913–922, 2014.
  • Niehaus, J., J.G. Becker, A. Kostinski, and W. Cantrell, Laboratory measurements of contact freezing by dust and bacteria at temperatures of mixed phase clouds. J. Atmos. Sci., in press, 2014.
  • Bunker, K. W., China, S., Mazzoleni, C., Kostinski, A. B., Cantrell, W. H., "Measurements of ice nucleation by mineral dusts in the contact mode", Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss. 12, 20291-20309, 2012.
  • Cantrell, W., A. Kostinski, A. Szedlak, and A. Johnson, Heat of freezing for supercooled water: measurements at atmospheric pressure. J. Phys. Chem. A, 115, 5729-5734, 2010.
  • Kostinski, A. and W. Cantrell. Entropic aspects of supercooled droplet freezing, J. Atmos. Sci., 65, 2961-2971, 2008.
  • Cantrell, W., E. Ochshorn, A. Kostinski, and K. Bozin. The vapor pressure of supercooled water measured using infrared spectroscopy, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 25, 1724-1729, 2008.
  • Ochshorn, E. and W. Cantrell. Towards understanding ice nucleation by long chain alcohols, J. Chem Phys., 124(5): Art. No. 054714, 2006.
  • Cantrell, W. and A. Heymsfield. Production of ice in tropospheric clouds: A review. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 86, 795-807, 2005. Read More
  • Larsen, M., W. Cantrell, J. Kannosto, and A. Kostinski. Detection of spatial correlations among aerosol particles. Aerosol Sci. Technol., 37, 476-485, 2003.