Aerosols: Smoke and Mirrors of the Climate System
Abstract: Aerosols are sometimes referred to as the most confounding cog in the climate system when it comes to prognosticating the future of the Earth's climate. Their interaction with clouds makes the problem truly wicked. Here we look at a very small subset of the issue — that of the effect of absorbing aerosol above cloud, a persistent feature over the southeastern Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa. We find that global models have some common deficiencies that make it difficult to study the effect. A concerted effort to study the interaction of biomass burning smoke with clouds is currently under way. We report on some early results from a lidar onboard a high-altitude aircraft that was deployed in the region in September 2016.