When one considers that roughly 2/3 of the warming predicted in global climate models (GCMs) is due to the response from water vapor and clouds to the initial GHG forcing, it is not difficult to understand why cloud physics is important to climate change research. Regarding warm clouds, a unique instrument developed at DRI quantifies the relationships between cloud condensation nuclei, cloud updraft and supersaturation, and the cloud droplet size distribution, helping to quantify cloud-aerosol interactions and resultant cloud optical effects. For cold clouds, data streams from improved microphysical measurements (supplied from collaborators outside of Atmospheric Sciences) are being analyzed within to better characterize the ice particle effective sizes, De, and mass-weighted ice fall speeds, Vm.
The mercury research at DRI currently entails several ongoing and federally-funded projects. Thrusts in this research area include projects that examine the effects of global change on the atmospheric mercury burden and mercury sequestration through changes in ecosystem carbon pools, mercury depletion events in the troposphere and mid-latitudes, and the development of a new instrument: the Cavity Ring-Down Sensor for Real-Time Measurement of Atmospheric Mercury Concentrations and Fluxes.