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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Indirect aerosol effect

Aerosols may lead to an indirect radiative forcing of the climate system through acting as cloud condensation nuclei or modifying the optical properties and lifetime of clouds. Two indirect effects are distinguished:

Cloud albedo effect A radiative forcing induced by an increase in anthropogenic aerosols that cause an initial increase in droplet concentration and a decrease in droplet size for fixed liquid water content, leading to an increase in cloud albedo. This effect is also known as the first indirect effect or Twomey effect.

Cloud lifetime effect A forcing induced by an increase in anthropogenic aerosols that cause a decrease in droplet size, reducing the precipitation efficiency, thereby modifying the liquid water content, cloud thickness and cloud life time. This effect is also known as the second indirect effect or Albrecht effect.

Apart from these indirect effects, aerosols may have a semi-direct effect. This refers to the absorption of solar radiation by absorbing aerosol, which heats the air and tends to increase the static stability relative to the surface. It may also cause evaporation of cloud droplets.

Definition courtesy of IPCC AR4.

All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.



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