BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

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

BER Research Highlights


Predicting the Impacts of Tiny Ice Particles on Climate
Published: July 05, 2010
Posted: July 28, 2010

Our knowledge of cloud and precipitation formation processes remains incomplete, particularly precipitation by ice containing clouds. In clouds warmer than -36 °C, ice must first form on tiny particles termed ice nuclei. Combining observations from field studies over a 14-year period from a variety of locations around the globe, DOE-funded scientists have shown that the concentrations of ice nuclei in mixed-phase clouds, i.e., clouds that contain both water and ice, can be related to temperature and the number of particles larger than 0.5 micron in diameter. This new understanding reduces the unexplained variability in ice nuclei concentrations at a given temperature from ~103 to less than a factor of 10. The remaining variability is apparently due to variations in aerosol chemical composition or other factors. When this updated formulation was tested in a global climate model, it strongly altered cloud water and icy water distributions compared to the currently used formulation that depends solely on cloud temperature. The updated formulation also indicates that each order of magnitude increase in ice nuclei concentration results in an increase of ~1 W/m2 in the global net cloud radiative forcing (heating of about 0.01º C/day). This result demonstrates the strong sensitivity of climate projections to assumptions regarding the initiation of cloud glaciation.

Reference: “Predicting global atmospheric ice nuclei distributions and their impacts on climate”, P. J. DeMott, A. J. Prenni, X. Liu, S. M. Kreidenweis, M. D. Petters, C. H. Twohy, M. S. Richardson, T. Eidhammer, and D. C. Rogers; PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.0910818107.

Contact: Kiran Alapaty, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3175, Ashley Williamson, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3120
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)