PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Can We Understand Clouds Without Turbulence?

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Science  19 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5968, pp. 970-971
DOI: 10.1126/science.1185138

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Just over 50 years ago, Henry Houghton published an essay in Science entitled “Cloud physics: Not all questions about nucleation, growth, and precipitation of water particles are yet answered” (1). Since then, understanding of cloud processes has advanced enormously, yet we still face some of the basic questions Houghton drew attention to. The interest in finding the answers, however, has steadily increased, largely because clouds are a primary source of uncertainty in projections of future climate (2). Why is our understanding of cloud processes still so inadequate, and what are the prospects for the future?