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The effects of anthropogenic particulate emissions from ships on the radiative, microphysical, and chemical properties of moderately polluted marine stratiform clouds are examined. A case study of two ships in the same air mass is presented where one of the vessels caused a discernible ship track while the other did not. In situ measurements of cloud droplet size distributions, liquid water content, and cloud radiative properties, as well as aerosol size distributions (outside cloud, interstitial, and cloud droplet residual particles) and aerosol chemistry, are presented. These are related to measurements of cloud radiative properties. The differences between the aerosol in the two ship plumes are discussed;these indicate that combustion-derived particles in the size range of about 0.03–0.3-μm radius were those that caused the microphysical changes in the clouds that were responsible for the ship track.

The authors examine the processes behind ship track formation in a moderately polluted marine boundary layer as an example of the effects that anthropogenic particulate pollution can have in the albedo of marine stratiform clouds.