ADVERTISEMENT
2 /3 FREE ARTICLES LEFT THIS MONTH Remaining
Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.

ENJOY UNLIMITED ACCES TO C&EN

Materials

Airborne Mineral Dust Is Key To Cirrus Cloud Creation

Understanding cloud formation will improve climate modeling

by Jyllian Kemsley
May 13, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 19

[+]Enlarge
Credit: Bill Stafford/NASA
A crew prepares the NASA WB-57 high-altitude plane to study cirrus cloud formation.
09119-scicon-CirrusCloudsPlanecxd.jpg
Credit: Bill Stafford/NASA
A crew prepares the NASA WB-57 high-altitude plane to study cirrus cloud formation.

Clouds play a key role in climate by reflecting solar radiation and by trapping heat from Earth. Understanding how clouds form is critical to modeling climate effects. Studies reveal that airborne mineral dust and metal particles are essential for forming cirrus clouds, which are wispy and found in high altitudes (Science 2013, DOI: 10.1126/science.1234145). A group led by Daniel J. Cziczo of Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied cirrus ice crystals during four aircraft measurement campaigns from 2002 to 2011. The researchers found that most of the particles in the air near clouds are made of sulfate and organic carbon. They also found that in the cloud formation process, ice preferentially condenses on aluminosilicate dust or metal particles. The results point to a heterogeneous ice nucleation mechanism in clouds, akin to getting a compound to crystallize from solution by scratching the beaker, rather than a homogeneous mechanism in which ice nucleates without a substrate.

X

Article:

This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment