Natural versus anthropogenic factors affecting low-level cloud albedo over the North Atlantic

Paul G. Falkowski, Yongseung Kim, Zbigniew Kolber,
Cara Wilson, Creighton Wirick and Robert Cess

Science 256: 1311-1313, 1992.


Cloud albedo plays a key role in regulating Earth's climate. Cloud albedo depends on column-integrated liquid water content and the density of cloud condensation nuclei, which consists primarily of submicrometer-sized aerosol sulfate particles. A comparison of two independent satellite data sets suggests that, although anthropogenic sulfate emissions may enhance cloud albedo immediately adjacent to the east coast of the United States, over the central North Atlantic Ocean the variability in albedo can largely be accounted for by natural marine and atmospheric processes that probably have remained relatively constant since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

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