Factors determining the most efficient spray distribution for marine cloud brightening

P. J. Connolly*, G. B. McFiggans, R. Wood, A. Tsiamis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the sensitivity of marine cloud brightening to the properties of the added salt particle distribution using a cloud parcel model, with an aim to address the question of, 'what is the most efficient particle size distribution that will produce a desired cooling effect?' We examine the effect that altering the aerosol particle size distribution has on the activation and growth of drops, i.e. the Twomey effect alone, and do not consider macrophysical cloud responses that may enhance or mitigate the Twomey effect. For all four spray generation methods considered, Rayleigh jet; Taylor cone jet; supercritical fluid; and effervescent spray, salt particles within the median dry diameter range Dm = 30-100nm are the most effective range of sizes. The Rayleigh jet method is also the most energy efficient overall. We also find that care needs to be taken when using droplet activation parametrizations: for the concentrations considered, Aitken particles do not result in a decrease in the total albedo, as was found in a recent study, and such findings are likely to be a result of the parametrizations' inability to simulate the effect of swollen aerosol particles. Our findings suggest that interstitial aerosol particles play a role in controlling the albedo rather than just the activated cloud drops, which is an effect that the parametrization methods do not consider.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140056
JournalPhilosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2031
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Aerosols
  • Albedo
  • Cloud brightening
  • Cloud-drops
  • Geoengineering

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