Brian Dunbar Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

(Phone: 202/453-1749)

February 1, 1990

Michael J. Braukus Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/286-5565) RELEASE: 90-17 SCIENTIST REPORTS POLLUTION IN CLOUDS CAN COOL EARTH'S CLIMATE A scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., has co-authored a report on a study that provided new evidence that pollution can modify clouds so that they help cool the Earth's climate. In a study published in the journal Science, Michael D. King, of Goddard's Laboratory for Atmospheres, and his colleagues observed the effects of pollution from ships burning fossil fuels on shallow layer clouds. The study, co-authored by Lawrence F. Radke, University of Washington, and James A. Coakley, Jr., Oregon State University, used simultaneous measurements from the NOAA-10 satellite and the University of Washington's C-131A research aircraft. The observations of these "ship track" clouds were conducted off the coast of California on July 10, 1987. "Changes in cloud reflectivity, resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, are expected to have a cooling effect on global climate," said King. "Our study reports new evidence that the

cooling effect will be larger than previously predicted." Explaining the effect of pollution on clouds, King said, "Pollution serves as a source of particles around which cloud droplets form. These particles are called cloud condensation nuclei. Increases in pollution are expected to lead to increased numbers of these nuclei, which compete for liquid water in the cloud. With more nuclei, the cloud contains more droplets, which are smaller in size. - more -2-

"Our paper shows that these changes are indeed taking place in the portions of maritime clouds that have been polluted by underlying ships," said King. "However, we discovered that the polluted clouds contained more liquid water than the surrounding clouds. These observations indicate that clouds with smaller droplets suppress the loss of water by precipitation, thereby allowing water to remain in the clouds for longer periods, which in turn increases cloud life span and prolong their cooling effect on the Earth." The study's findings exemplify the complexity of the global climate and the fact that scientists do not understand the processes well enough to make unequivocal predictions about long-range climate trends. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, in which NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications is a major participant, will develop the scientific measurements for analysis of competing processes, such as the warming effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the cooling effect of clouds. The result will be a more solid foundation on which to base policy decisions. -endNote to Editors: Color photographs of satellite imagery and cloud droplet size distribution can be obtained from the Goddard Public Affairs Office by calling 301/286-8955.

TO: MDS/PRA Group 1615 L Street, N.W. - Suite 100 Washington, D.C. 20036 DATE & TIME: FEBRUARY 2, 1990 ORDERED BY: Edward Campion NASA Headquarters/LMD 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20546 PHONE: 202/453-8400 PROJECT TITLE: Release No: 90-17 PRINT ORDER: 2202 PRINTING: Camera Ready, lst pg on NASA logo, other pages plain ENCLOSE & MAIL: Release of 2 pages MAIL DATE: FEBRUARY 5, 1990 EXTRA COPIES: Deliver specified quanities to locations below:

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