In a recent press release, scientists from the Weizmann Institute and the Goddard Space Flight Center announced that a mysterious zone of previously undiscovered particles fills the airspace around clouds.
Ilan Koren of the Weizmann Institute wrote: “The effects of this zone are not included in most computer models that estimate the impact of aerosols on climate. This could be one of the reasons why current measurements of this effect don’t match our model estimates.”
What appears to be clear blue sky around clouds, such as in the image above, is actually a region of particles that do not correspond to water vapor or the pollution-induced gasses that investigators expected to see. Since clouds have a high albedo and scatter polarized light from their outer margins, it is challenging for the MODIS research team to detect anything near them. So that glare from specular distortion does not obscure their results they avoid scanning an area about one kilometer distant from cloud boundaries.