Deciphering cloud nucleation

Particle growth in the atmosphere

May 25, 2016 | MICHAEL HAGMANN
An international team of researchers led by the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and with the participation of researchers from Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, has demonstrated how fine dust particles (so-called aerosols) in the atmosphere are formed from natural substances such as those evaporated from trees.

Aerosols are crucial to climate, since water condenses on these particles – the first step in cloud formation. Experiments in the CLOUD chamber at CERN, in which different atmospheric conditions can be created, and at the Jungfraujoch Research Station, have now shown that natural sources also have an unexpectedly important role to play in this. The results, which were presented in three articles in the journals "Nature" and "Science", improve our understanding of cloud formation; this, in turn, enables climate developments to be described much more precisely.

For more information have a look at the press release of PSI here.

Further information

Dr. Stephan Henne
Empa, Air Pollution / Environmental Technology
Phone +41 58 765 46 28

Prof. Dr. Urs Baltensperger
PSI, Labors für Atmosphärenchemie
Phone +41 56 310 24 08


Editor / Media contact

Dr. Michael Hagmann
Empa, Communication
Phone +41 58 765 45 92