PerspectiveClouds

Don't forget the surface

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Science  25 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6280, pp. 1396-1397
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3253

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Summary

Clouds are an essential source of fresh water to continents and all ecosystems (1) and a major cooling factor in the climate budget (2). Yet, predicting their formation remains a challenge (2). In the atmosphere, cloud droplets form not from water vapor alone but through condensation of water on aerosol particles called cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) (3). On page 1447 of this issue, Ruehl et al. (4) show experimentally that surface effects play a central role in cloud droplet formation from CCN.