PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

How Pollution Suppresses Rain

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Science  10 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5459, pp. 1763-1765
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5459.1763

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Atmospheric aerosols reflect sunlight towards space, cooling Earth, and partially counteracting the greenhouse effect. But, as Toon discusses in this Perspective, this is not the only way in which aerosols affect climate. Satellite data presented by Rosenfeld on page 1793 show substantially reduced precipitation downwind from the pollution source. The mechanisms by which pollution may suppress rain remain poorly understood, and different effects may occur depending on the type of pollution and the atmospheric conditions.