PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Absorbing Phenomena

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Science  12 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5468, pp. 989-990
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5468.989

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Aerosols are an important atmospheric constituent disturbed by human activities. But as Schwartz and Buseck discuss in this Perspective, pinpointing their climatic impact is difficult because of their temporal and spatial inhomgeneity. Aircraft, satellites, ships, and island stations participated in a recent observation campaign in the Indian Ocean, INDOEX, aimed at resolving some of the outstanding questions. Ackerman et al. (page 1042) show that absorption of shortwave radiation by aerosols can lead to cloud evaporation. This and other effects illustrate the importance of aerosol effects on climate, and the complexity of aerosol-cloud interactions.