Public Lecture: “How smoke and clouds impact regional and global climate”


Clouds consisting of water droplets and ice crystals cover two thirds of the Earth’s surface. Depending upon their properties and their height in the atmosphere, clouds cool the Earth’s by reflecting sunlight back to space and also warm the Earth by preventing thermal infrared radiation from escaping. Because cloud coverage and cloud types are not uniform across the Earth’s surface, they help shape how energy and water are transported within in the climate system. Every droplet of water in a cloud forms on a yet smaller particle called an aerosol particle. Aerosol particles, which include smoke, dust, organic materials and salts are either solid or are solutions of soluble material that allow water to condense when the air becomes saturated. Aerosol particles can also reflect sunlight directly and can alter the properties of clouds. This presentation will introduce some of the basics of cloud and aerosol science and demonstrate how clouds and aerosol particles are impacting Earth’s climate at the regional and global scale. The presentation will highlight ongoing observational campaigns based in the southeastern Atlantic region that are seeking to better understand the interactions between biomass burning smoke, clouds and climate.

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