Priority Research Areas


ASR’s four priority research areas correspond to regimes with large uncertainties in climate prediction:

  • Aerosol Processes
  • Warm Boundary Layer Processes
  • Convective Processes
  • High-Latitude Processes

Working Groups

Four working groups that correspond with ASR research priorities make it easier to connect research teams working on the various cloud, aerosol, land, and precipitation processes and process interactions. Principal investigators (PIs)—researchers funded by ASR—participate in at least one working group. Contact the working group leaders if you are new to ASR and would like to join a working group.

The ASR working groups focus on:

  • Aerosol Processes – understanding of processes that control spatial and time-related distribution of aerosols and their chemical, microphysical (occurring on a microscopic scale), and optical properties. The goal is to reduce the uncertainty in radiative forcing (energy imbalance) due to these atmospheric particles. Research areas include: 1) new particle formation; 2) effects of aerosol composition, mixing state, and physical properties on growth, aging, and removal processes; 3) direct and indirect radiative effects of optically absorbing aerosols; and 4) understanding and predicting secondary organic aerosol concentrations and properties.
  • Warm Boundary Layer Processes – understanding and model representation of processes controlling the structural and radiative properties of clouds, aerosols, and their interactions with the underlying surface in the lowest few kilometers of the atmosphere. Research areas include: 1) characterization of boundary layer and cloud dynamics; 2) cloud and aerosol microphysics and their interactions; 3) factors influencing cloud formation; and 4) radiative processes that together influence the vertical transfers of energy, moisture, and atmospheric components.
  • Convective Processes – understanding and model representation of convective (heat-transferring) cloud processes and properties, including cloud cover, precipitation, life cycle, dynamics, and microphysics, over a range of spatial scales. Research areas include: 1) convective vertical velocity (upward heat transfer) and effects on cloud microphysics and precipitation; 2) transitions in cloud populations and mesoscale (medium-scale) organization of convection; and 3) interactions between cloud microphysics, aerosols, precipitation, and radiation. Research approaches involve both direct observations and retrievals of environmental and cloud properties, as well as process development and improvement of convective representations in models.
  • High-Latitude Processes – understanding and model representation of physical processes controlling the surface energy budgets in northern and southern high-latitude regions. This includes work to understand: 1) cloud microphysical and macrophysical properties, with emphasis on hydrometeor (rain, snow, etc.) phase division and ice crystal properties; 2) aerosol particle properties, including sources and transport, chemical and optical properties, and the role of the particles in cloud structure; 3) tropospheric states (pertaining to the lowest atmospheric layer, where most weather occurs), including the role of clouds in atmospheric mixing, development of convective boundary layers in regions with diverse surface conditions, and the role of microscale and mesoscale meteorological circulation patterns on thermodynamic evolution; and 4) surface-atmosphere interactions, including elements affecting radiative and turbulent surface energy exchange.