Investigation of atmoSpheric cloud-Particle Interactions

with cross-disciplinary student Research Experiences


  • Anne Monod, Aix-Marseille University, Laboratoire de Chimie de l'Environnement UMR7376
  • Fabien Robert-Peillard, Maitre de conférences at Aix-Marseille University, Laboratoire de Chimie de l'Environnement UMR7376
  • Armin Sorooshian, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, UArizona


Climate change is an important component of several concurrent global environmental changes that also affect human health – often interactively. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report underscores that our understanding of the links between climate, climate change, and human health has increased considerably in recent decades. However, there are still many gaps in knowledge about likely future patterns of exposure to climatic-environmental changes, and about the vulnerability and adaptability of physical, ecological, and social systems to such climate change. Improving our ability to predict future climate change is of high priority not only for environmental impacts, but also for a societal and public health impact.As clouds play a key role in the Earth’s radiation budget, the complex (Figure 1) but incompletely understood interactions between aerosol and clouds makes cloud effects the most uncertain component of current climate projections. Aerosol particles are the seeds of cloud droplets and thus there is an urgent need to improve predictions of cloud droplet size and number concentration from aerosol properties. Our goal is to improve the understanding of aerosol-cloud interactions, one of the lacking key pieces for climate projections.

The largest uncertainty in predicting climate change is linked to aerosol-cloud interactions and cloud formation. INSPIRE proposes 2 different approaches to tackle this goal: Approach A field measurement data analysis will serve to robustly characterize aerosol-cloud-meteorology interactions using extensive measurements of aerosols and clouds; in Approach B laboratory experiments of cloud droplet activation will be monitored under physico-chemical controlled conditions, then using some samples from the field measurements involved with Approach A. For both, newly developed instrumentation will be used along with modeling and data analysis to improve the parametrization of cloud droplet formation. 

A challenge limiting progress is the lack of overlap between scientists investigating different aspects of this issue occurring across different spatial scales. This project unites respective experts on different aspects of this research topic using different approaches (field measurements and laboratory experiments) the result of which will be much-needed ‘glue’ between processes and interconnections occurring along a spectrum of spatial scales. Simultaneously, a new line of collaboration between research groups at both institutions enhancing each one’s overall research and adding significant value to on-going projects and spearheading further collaboration, and inspiring a new generation of graduate students by building high-quality multi-disciplinary research results towards their doctoral dissertations.