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Title: Could geoengineering research help answer one of the biggest questions in climate science?: GEOENGINEERING RESEARCH

Anthropogenic aerosol impacts on clouds constitute the largest source of uncertainty in quantifying the radiative forcing of climate, and hinders our ability to determine Earth's climate sensitivity to greenhouse gas increases. Representation of aerosol–cloud interactions in global models is particularly challenging because these interactions occur on typically unresolved scales. Observational studies show influences of aerosol on clouds, but correlations between aerosol and clouds are insufficient to constrain aerosol forcing because of the difficulty in separating aerosol and meteorological impacts. In this commentary, we argue that this current impasse may be overcome with the development of approaches to conduct control experiments whereby aerosol particle perturbations can be introduced into patches of marine low clouds in a systematic manner. Such cloud perturbation experiments constitute a fresh approach to climate science and would provide unprecedented data to untangle the effects of aerosol particles on cloud microphysics and the resulting reflection of solar radiation by clouds. Here, the control experiments would provide a critical test of high-resolution models that are used to develop an improved representation aerosol–cloud interactions needed to better constrain aerosol forcing in global climate models.
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [3]
  1. Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA (United States)
  2. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  3. Ocean Conservancy, Washington, D.C. (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; geoengineering; marine cloud brightening; clouds
OSTI Identifier: