Research Article

The Role of Sea Spray in Cleansing Air Pollution over Ocean via Cloud Processes

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Science  06 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5587, pp. 1667-1670
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073869

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Particulate air pollution has been shown to strongly suppress precipitation from convective clouds over land. New observations show that precipitation from similar polluted clouds over oceans is much less affected, because large sea salt nuclei override the precipitation suppression effect of the large number of small pollution nuclei. Raindrops initiated by the sea salt grow by collecting small cloud droplets that form on the pollution particles, thereby cleansing the air. Therefore, sea salt helps cleanse the atmosphere of the air pollution via cloud processes. This implies that over oceans, the climatic aerosol indirect effects are significantly smaller than current estimates.

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