U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Understanding and Quantifying the Aerosol Effects on Clouds
Published: August 17, 2009
Posted: August 27, 2009

For the first time scientists in DOE's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program have quantified the impacts of aerosols on low-level clouds.  This was accomplished by using large statistics from DOE's long-term detailed atmospheric measurements.  This study revealed that interaction of aerosols with clouds resulted in increased reflection of sun light causing the atmosphere to cool.  This cooling was found to be strongly dependent on characteristics of aerosols as well as the atmosphere itself.  Additionally, the accuracy of the estimated cooling depends on the coverage (in space and time) of the measurements. These results indicate that careful analysis of observed responses of clouds to aerosol effects is essential because an accurate empirical relationship between aerosols and clouds can be developed and used in climate models to study global warming trends.

Reference:  McComiskey, A., G. Feingold, A. Shelby Frisch, D. D. Turner, M. A. Miller, J. C. Chiu, Q. Min, and J. A. Ogren (2009), An assessment of aerosol-cloud interactions in marine stratus clouds based on surface remote sensing, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D09203, doi:10.1029/2008JD011006.


Contact: Kiran Alapaty, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3175
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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