Research Spotlight: Separating pollution from sea spray helps aerosol-cloud interaction studies


  • Mohi Kumar,

  • Ernie Tretkoff


Aerosols suspended in the atmosphere over the ocean can typically be classified into two categories: particles from sea spray and particles from continents, the latter of which includes soot and other pollutants from anthropogenic emissions. Combined, these aerosols can influence the formation and behavior of clouds—water vapor tends to condense into droplets around these particles. However, detailed studies of how aerosols influence clouds are hampered by the fact that study regions need to be broad to get the amount of data required for statistical analysis—cloud properties in broad study regions tend to be heavily controlled by meteorological dynamics that mask the effects of aerosols on cloud formation.