A Caltech Library Service

Kinetic limitations on droplet formation in clouds

Chuang, P. Y. and Charlson, Robert J. and Seinfeld, J. H. (1997) Kinetic limitations on droplet formation in clouds. Nature, 390 (6660). pp. 594-596. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/37576.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The 'indirect' radiative cooling of climate due to the role of anthropogenic aerosols in cloud droplet formation processes (which affect cloud albedo) is potentially large, up to -1.5 W m^(-2) (ref. 1). It is important to be able to determine the number concentration of cloud droplets to within a few per cent, as radiative forcing as a result of clouds is very sensitive to changes in this quantity, but empirical approaches are problematic. The initial growth of a subset of particles known as cloud condensation nuclei and their subsequent 'activation' to form droplets are generally calculated with the assumption that cloud droplet activation occurs as an equilibrium process described by classical Köhler theory. Here we show that this assumption can be invalid under certain realistic conditions. We conclude that the poor empirical correlation between cloud droplet and cloud condensation nuclei concentrations is partly a result of kinetically limited growth before droplet activation occurs. Ignoring these considerations in calculations of total cloud radiative forcing based on cloud condensation nuclei concentrations could lead to errors that are of the same order of magnitude as the total anthropogenic greenhouse-gas radiative forcing.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Seinfeld, J. H.0000-0003-1344-4068
Additional Information:© 1997 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Received 20 January; accepted 13 October 1997. This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Office of Naval Research (ONR)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6660
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150609-080501350
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:58099
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Jun 2015 15:11
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 21:59

Repository Staff Only: item control page