Pollution and cloud reflectance
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Conventional power plants are prolific sources of cloudnucleating particles. Consequently clouds forming in air influenced by such emissions contain higher concentrations of cloud droplets than would prevail in clean conditions; optical properties of clouds are thereby modified, causing them to reflect more sunlight and transmit less. That has obvious consequences for climate physics, but it may also be relevant for mesoscale processes since quite substantial energy changes are involved. Ships constitute isolated sources in an environment that is often quite clean, and when low thin cloud layers are present, ships delineate their courses in satellite images by bright lines. These lines are caused by the above-mentioned increase in reflectance, providing, on a scale of tens to hundreds of kilometers, a realization of an effect which on a climatic scale cannot be directly observed (but which is likely to be comparable in magnitude to the CO2 effect, but oppositely directed).
KeywordsOptical Property Power Plant Satellite Image Energy Change Obvious Consequence
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