Intellectual Merit

Particles in the atmosphere play a key role in cloud formation, acting as nuclei for water droplets. Clouds play an important role in absorbing and reflecting heat, hence they can potentially mitigate or exacerbate global warming. Aerosol-cloud radiative interactions are widely held to be the largest single source of uncertainty in climate model projections of future climate change due to increasing anthropogenic emissions (IPCC, 2007). The underlying causes of this uncertainty among modeled predictions of climate are the gaps in our fundamental understanding of cloud processes. There has been significant progress with both observations and models on these important questions. However, while the qualitative aspects of the Twomey, Albrecht, and Ackerman indirect effects of aerosols on clouds are well known, the quantitative representation of these processes is nontrivial and limits our ability to represent them in global climate models (GCMs), resulting in the largest uncertainties in predictions of future climate. Given the timeliness of these questions for advancing GCMs, it is essential to address the unanswered questions in cloud dynamical response to aerosol perturbations.


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