Research Spotlight: Teasing out how aerosol levels influence precipitation


  • Mohi Kumar,

  • Ernie Tretkoff


Aerosol particles such as dust, smog, smoke, and oceanic haze play an important role in the physics of cloud generation—with all other factors fixed, an increase in aerosol concentrations results in more numerous but smaller water droplets within clouds. Further, high concentrations of aerosols make it harder for cloud droplets to coalesce into larger droplets, thus suppressing the ability of clouds to form rain. However, the nature and magnitude of this effect are highly uncertain, making it difficult to model how increased pollution levels will affect rain patterns.