Clouds play an essential role in the climate system by modulating the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface and longwave radiation escaping to space, as well as being the key element of the hydrologic cycle. All these depend on microscale processes controlling the number and size of cloud and precipitation particles, typically referred to as the cloud microphysics. Since to a large extent cloud microphysics is controlled by the atmospheric aerosols involved in activation of cloud droplets and ice crystals (the cloud condensation nuclei and ice-forming nuclei, respectively), there is a considerable interest in the understanding of the connection between aerosols, clouds, and climate.
This paper will review recent progress in this area, highlight the differences between shallow boundary layer clouds and deep convective systems, and suggest possible approaches to quantify the interactions between clouds and aerosols in the context of climate and climate change.
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