Report

Evidence for the Predominance of Mid-Tropospheric Aerosols as Subtropical Anvil Cloud Nuclei

Science  30 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5671, pp. 718-722
DOI: 10.1126/science.1094947

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Abstract

NASA's recent Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers–Florida Area Cirrus Experiment focused on anvil cirrus clouds, an important but poorly understood element of our climate system. The data obtained included the first comprehensive measurements of aerosols and cloud particles throughout the atmospheric column during the evolution of multiple deep convective storm systems. Coupling these new measurements with detailed cloud simulations that resolve the size distributions of aerosols and cloud particles, we found several lines of evidence indicating that most anvil crystals form on mid-tropospheric rather than boundary-layer aerosols. This result defies conventional wisdom and suggests that distant pollution sources may have a greater effect on anvil clouds than do local sources.

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