Credit: Atlas et al./AGU Advances
How ice behaves inside clouds affects the clouds’ 3-D shape and how much sunlight is reflected back to space. Arrows at the top show that the cloud on the left reflects less sunlight (smaller arrow) than the cloud on the right, so more solar energy reaches the ocean’s surface. On the left, a large rimer, or ice chunk (blue sunburst) attracts liquid water, which freezes and then shatters to create shards (blue rectangles). These shards grow as more water freezes to them, so shattering allows ice particles to grow in clouds at the expense of liquid drops. As these faster-growing, larger, ice shards fall (left side) less liquid water is left to spread out and disperse horizontally (right side).