Aerosols, a Cloud’s Best Friend

I have noticed that whenever I tell people about my research in aerosols, their immediate thought is usually either hairspray or something that negatively affects climate. Little do people know that aerosols play a major role in cloud formation. While browsing YouTube, I found a video that does a great job at explaining the importance of aerosols. The video gives an energetic vibe and keeps the viewer entertained.

Beautiful Clouds in the Sky

The main point the video was trying to get across was that clouds need aerosols to act as nucleation sites, or the beginning of cloud formation. Typically, these nucleation sites are aerosol particles such as sea spray, dust or anthropogenic particles.

Aerosol (cupcake) – Water (M&M) Demo: The cupcakes with a lot of M&M’s represent a rain cloud and the other image is white fluffy clouds

The speaker then goes on to explain the difference between white fluffy clouds and dark rainy clouds. She uses cupcakes and M&M’s as a visual aid (my only complaint is that now I want M&M’s). It becomes clear that less aerosols in a cloud lead to larger, heavier droplets and evolve into a rain cloud. Without the illustration, it can be difficult to picture what is going on at such a small scale in a cloud. Overall, this video is fun way to clearly convey the importance of aerosols in cloud formation.

Stay tuned for a post coming soon about geoengineering! I will touch on the topic of using aerosols as a method of climate cooling.