Recent research has shown that by understanding the cloud formation process, scientists can provide us with many information not only about climate change but also about previous weather reports and future predictions.
According to Jasper Kirkby, lead author of one of the three recent studies and part of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), this process will sharpen and reduce projections about temperature regarding the 21st century.
Until now, it has not been known the development of the natural process that creates atmospheric particles around which clouds form. It seems that the primary source of particles is air pollution. Also, a combination of gases released by trees and cosmic rays from space creates particles and clouds afterwards, without human intervention.
Researchers came up with this conclusion after the results from a cloud simulation chamber and a mountaintop observatory 2 miles high in Switzerland. According to Kirkby, this process can only be observed in clean environments, and there are very few left on Earth.
In order to make the prediction process efficient, the computer models need to make assumptions at least about how the clouds were before industrialization. Clouds have a crucial role in cooling the surface of the Earth because they act as a protective layer between us and the sun. Plus, they also reflect back the sunlight.
No one knows how the clouds used to be in the past, meaning hundreds or even thousands of years ago. However, scientists believe that there were far fewer clouds than there are now. It is still good that they have begun understanding how important is the role of cloud formation in order to understand more things about the weather.
Even if this discovery gave scientists enough reasons to be excited, many questions remain. As mentioned previously, it was impossible to establish how clouds were in the past, to figure out how much the pollution process affects cloud formation and whether there is something researchers can do about it.
They admitted that there is still a long way to go until there will be enough information to establish the exact factors that influence cloud formation and how efficient will be the prediction strategy that scientists want to rely on in the future.
Image Source:Pod Geraspora