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How aerosol formation helps brighten clouds, balance climate

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  • Categories
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    8th Dec, 2020


  • Small aerosol particles help in brightening clouds, enabling them to alter Earth’s radiative balance and ultimately its climate.

How do they work?

  • When deep, convective clouds in the tropics carry gases high into the atmosphere, they form small aerosol particles in a process called a gas-to-particle conversion.
  • As they condense, they grow big enough to brighten lower-level clouds in the lower troposphere. 
  • This formation of new particles covers about 40 percent of the Earth’s surface.

How this understanding is useful?

  • How these particles form and contribute to cloud properties in the tropics will help us better represent clouds in climate models and improve those models.
  • The findings showed that in remote places with cleaner air, the effect of aerosol particle formation on clouds was found to be much larger. 

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