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Surfactants often found in tropospheric aerosols, can affect the onset and development of clouds. Due to high dilution during droplet growth, the effects of surfactants on cloud microphysical processes have been mostly neglected. However, while cloud growth by coalescence conserves the combined volume of all cloud droplets, it reduces the combined surface area. This could lead to enrichment of water‐insoluble surfactants (WIS) and to reduced surface tension of droplets forming in warm processes. Measurements of individual raindrops reveal the presence of water insoluble surfactants. Our field and laboratory studies as well as simple theoretical arguments suggest that by causing varying and size‐dependent surface tension, WIS can affect cloud microphysics.

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Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union. Article deposited here in compliance with publisher policies. Publisher’s version of record:

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Geophysical Research Letters


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Physics Commons



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