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V. Bellantone, I. Carofalo, F. De Tomasi, M. R. Perrone, M. Santese, A. M. Tafuro, and A. Turnone

1. Introduction The importance of a quantitative and qualitative assessment of atmospheric aerosol characteristics has been recognized for many years, since aerosols are responsible for direct and indirect effects on atmospheric processes and hence on climate (e.g., Schwartz and Andreae 1996 ). Human health is also expected to be quite affected by the aerosol fine fraction. The variety of sources and chemical processes that contribute to the aerosol creation and their relatively short lifetime

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P. C. S. Devara, P. E. Raj, K. K. Dani, G. Pandithurai, M. C. R. Kalapureddy, S. M. Sonbawne, Y. J. Rao, and S. K. Saha

1. Introduction Aerosols of both natural and anthropogenic origin perturb the atmospheric radiation field through direct and indirect interactions with solar radiation ( Charlson and Heintzenberg 1995 ; Ramanathan et al. 1989 ). Monitoring of the impacts of natural aerosols can also help in understanding the evolution of past environments and predicting future climate. Moreover, atmospheric aerosol characteristics vary significantly in space and time over different environments. Thus

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Ronny Engelmann, Ulla Wandinger, Albert Ansmann, Detlef Müller, Egidijus Žeromskis, Dietrich Althausen, and Birgit Wehner

amount of available aerosol particles, their chemical composition, and the aerosol flux into the cloud ( Khain et al. 2000 ). Subsequent cloud dissolution in downdrafts will affect the particle size distribution, the volume and mass concentration, and the related optical effects too. All of these processes are far from being well understood because adequate observations are missing. This circumstance makes the description of aerosols in atmospheric models very difficult. As a consequence, the

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