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Ship track observations of a reduced shortwave aerosol indirect effect in...

Christensen, M. W., K. Suzuki, B. Zambri, and G. L. Stephens (2014), Ship track observations of a reduced shortwave aerosol indirect effect in mixed-phase clouds, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 6970-6977, doi:10.1002/2014GL061320.

Aerosol influences on clouds are a major source of uncertainty to our understanding of forced climate change. Increased aerosol can enhance solar reflection from clouds countering greenhouse gas warming. Recently, this indirect effect has been extended from water droplet clouds to other types including mixed-phase clouds. Aerosol effects on mixed-phase clouds are important because of their fundamental role on sea ice loss and polar climate change, but very little is known about aerosol effects on these clouds. Here we provide the first analysis of the effects of aerosol emitted from ship stacks into mixed-phase clouds. Satellite observations of solar reflection in numerous ship tracks reveal that cloud albedo increases 5 times more in liquid clouds when polluted and persist 2 h longer than in mixed-phase clouds. These results suggest that seeding mixed-phase clouds via shipping aerosol is unlikely to provide any significant counterbalancing solar radiative cooling effects in warming polar regions.

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