This satellite image shows pockets of open cells (POCS) in stratocumulus clouds over the Southeast Pacific Ocean.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of the MODIS Science Team at NASA GSFC

Clouds That Have Pockets with Open Cells

Stratocumulus clouds can be found over the ocean in the Southeast Pacific region. These clouds sometimes contain open areas in the clouds that scientists call "pockets of open cells," or POCs. Scientists think that POCs form when the clouds produce drizzle. They have also found a connection between drizzle and aerosols in the atmosphere.

Aerosols are tiny particles in the air that water droplets condense on within clouds during cloud formation. The amount of aerosols in the atmosphere impacts the formation of clouds. When there are fewer aerosols in the atmosphere, the cloud droplets that form on these aerosols are larger and produce more drizzle. This is when POCs form in the clouds. When there are more aerosols in the atmosphere, the cloud droplets that form are smaller and don't produce drizzle.

Scientists studying the climate in the Southeast Pacific are currently trying to learn more aerosols, drizzle, and POCs.

Last modified September 19, 2008 by Becca Hatheway.

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