Scientists found that the Arctic region is now warming two or three times quicker than the rest of the planet.
This increased warming is due to many factors. But the relative significance of each one is still unknown. Clouds, for instance, could play an important role.
Recently, a team of researchers measured atmospheric molecules’ physical and chemical properties and aerosol particles to understand better the conditions leading to cloud formation. Here is what you need to know.
Aerosols in the Arctic
One of the team’s aims was to find out how new aerosol particles could form in the Arctic atmosphere. The researchers believe that the gas molecules condense into small clusters that can increase, finally forming aerosols under the right conditions.
And if those aerosols grow only a bit larger, they can function as cloud condensation nuclei. These elements are incredibly significant for cloud formation.
In the Arctic fall and summer, the concentration of aerosols is usually low. The role of newly formed aerosols can be essential, and even a small change in aerosol concentration in the high Arctic could have a significant impact on cloud formation. It can also alter the clouds’ radiative properties.
But, it’s still unknown how important local aerosol processes are to cloud formation compared to long-range or regional transport.
The Iodic Acid Features
The team discovered, too, that iodic acid influences the formation of new aerosols between late summer and early fall. So, the researchers realized a simple model to demonstrate the variability of iodic acid in the atmosphere, which mainly depends on local meteorological conditions.
They also described the full chain of events that leads from new particle formation to clouds, from the gas molecule that first produces a particle to the formation of cloud condensation nuclei.
“Observing and describing this process under real-world conditions was an extremely rare opportunity,” stated Julia Schmale, an EPFL professor.
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