I catch clouds for a living
DANIEL CZICZO, ASSOCIATE PROF. AT MIT’S DEPARTMENT OF EARTH, ATMOSPHERIC AND PLANETARY SCIENCES
I study clouds because they both trap heat and reflect solar radiation to cool us. So figuring out their net effect helps us create climate models as the planet warms.
The water droplets and ice crystals that form clouds only start gathering together when they cling to tiny particles—little cloud seeds made of dust and minerals. We want to know what makes each seed grow.
At Mount Washington Observatory, a system of tubes captures and heats the cloud moisture, evaporating everything but the particles. We put similar seeds in a chamber and tweak humidity and temperature until we have a new cloud. Then we can see how it behaves under various conditions. But first, you have to catch a cloud.