The Influence of Pollution on the Shortwave Albedo of Clouds

S. Twomey Institute of Atmospheric Physics, University of Arisona, Tucson 85721

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Abstract

By increasing droplet concentration and thereby the optical thickness of a cloud, pollution acts to increase the reflectance (albedo) of clouds; by increasing the absorption coefficient it acts to decrease the reflectance. Calculations suggest that the former effect (brightening of the clouds in reflection, hence climatically a cooling effect) dominates for thin to moderately thick clouds, whereas for sufficiently thick clouds the latter effect (climatically a warming effect) can become dominant.

Abstract

By increasing droplet concentration and thereby the optical thickness of a cloud, pollution acts to increase the reflectance (albedo) of clouds; by increasing the absorption coefficient it acts to decrease the reflectance. Calculations suggest that the former effect (brightening of the clouds in reflection, hence climatically a cooling effect) dominates for thin to moderately thick clouds, whereas for sufficiently thick clouds the latter effect (climatically a warming effect) can become dominant.

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