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Published April 30, 2004 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Evidence for the Predominance of Mid-Tropospheric Aerosols as Subtropical Anvil Cloud Nuclei


NASA's recent Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers–Florida Area Cirrus Experiment focused on anvil cirrus clouds, an important but poorly understood element of our climate system. The data obtained included the first comprehensive measurements of aerosols and cloud particles throughout the atmospheric column during the evolution of multiple deep convective storm systems. Coupling these new measurements with detailed cloud simulations that resolve the size distributions of aerosols and cloud particles, we found several lines of evidence indicating that most anvil crystals form on mid-tropospheric rather than boundary-layer aerosols. This result defies conventional wisdom and suggests that distant pollution sources may have a greater effect on anvil clouds than do local sources.

Additional Information

© 2004 American Association for the Advancement of Science. 19 December 2003; accepted 24 March 2004. We thank J. Smith and B. Toon for raising questions about the relative importance of boundary-layer and free tropospheric aerosols, E. Zipser for sharing his experience with tropical convection, W. McKie for keeping our more than 70 computer processors running in concert from Key West to Mountain View, and D. Anderson for leading CRYSTAL-FACE with long-term vision. All of the data collection and modeling associated with this work was coordinated by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise through NRA-01-OES-02, with funding and support provided by NASA, NOAA, NSF, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Naval Research, and the United States Weather Research Program. We gratefully acknowledge additional computing support provided by DOE's High Performance Computing Facility.

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