Reports

Effect of Ship-Stack Effluents on Cloud Reflectivity

Science  28 Aug 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4818, pp. 1020-1022
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4818.1020

Abstract

Under stable meteorological conditions the effect of ship-stack exhaust on overlying clouds was detected in daytime satellite images as an enhancement in cloud reflectivity at 3.7 micrometers. The exhaust is a source of cloud-condensation nuclei that increases the number of cloud droplets while reducing droplet size. This reduction in droplet size causes the reflectivity at 3.7 micrometers to be greater than the levels for nearby noncontaminated clouds of similar physical characteristics. The increase in droplet number causes the reflectivity at 0.63 micrometer to be significantly higher for the contaminated clouds despite the likelihood that the exhaust is a source of particles that absorb at visible wavelengths. The effect of aerosols on cloud reflectivity is expected to have a larger influence on the earth's albedo than that due to the direct scattering and absorption of sunlight by the aerosols alone.