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New approaches to quantifying aerosol influence on the cloud radiative effect
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  • Description:
    The topic of cloud radiative forcing associated with the atmospheric aerosol has been the focus of intense scrutiny for decades. The enormity of the problem is reflected in the need to understand aspects such as aerosol composition, optical properties, cloud condensation, and ice nucleation potential, along with the global distribution of these properties, controlled by emissions, transport, transformation, and sinks. Equally daunting is that clouds themselves are complex, turbulent, microphysical entities and, by their very nature, ephemeral and hard to predict. Atmospheric general circulation models represent aerosol-cloud interactions at ever-increasing levels of detail, but these models lack the resolution to represent clouds and aerosol-cloud interactions adequately. There is a dearth of observational constraints on aerosol-cloud interactions. We develop a conceptual approach to systematically constrain the aerosol-cloud radiative effect in shallow clouds through a combination of routine process modeling and satellite and surface-based shortwave radiation measurements. We heed the call to merge Darwinian and Newtonian strategies by balancing microphysical detail with scaling and emergent properties of the aerosol-cloud radiation system.

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