An overview of the ORACLES (ObseRvations of aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS) project: Aerosol-cloud-radiation interactions in the southeast Atlantic basin

Jens Redemann*, Robert Wood, Paquita Zuidema, Sarah J. Doherty, Bernadette Luna, Samuel E. LeBlanc, Michael S. Diamond, Yohei Shinozuka, Ian Y. Chang, Rei Ueyama, Leonhard Pfister, Ju Mee Ryoo, Amie N. Dobracki, Arlindo M. da Silva, Karla M. Longo, Meloë S. Kacenelenbogen, Connor J. Flynn, Kristina Pistone, Nichola M. Knox, Stuart J. PikethJames M. Haywood, Paola Formenti, Marc Mallet, Philip Stier, Andrew S. Ackerman, Susanne E. Bauer, Ann M. Fridlind, Gregory R. Carmichael, Pablo E. Saide, Gonzalo A. Ferrada, Steven G. Howell, Steffen Freitag, Brian Cairns, Brent N. Holben, Kirk D. Knobelspiesse, Simone Tanelli, Tristan S. L'Ecuyer, Andrew M. Dzambo, Ousmane O. Sy, Greg M. McFarquhar, Michael R. Poellot, Siddhant Gupta, Joseph R. O'Brien, Athanasios Nenes, Mary Kacarab, Jenny P.S. Wong, Jennifer D. Small-Griswold, Kenneth L. Thornhill, David Noone, James R. Podolske, K. Sebastian Schmidt, Peter Pilewskie, Hong Chen, Sabrina P. Cochrane, Arthur J. Sedlacek, Timothy J. Lang, Eric Stith, Michal Segal-Rozenhaimer, Richard A. Ferrare, Sharon P. Burton, Chris A. Hostetler, David J. Diner, Felix C. Seidel, Steven E. Platnick, Jeffrey S. Myers, Kerry G. Meyer, Douglas A. Spangenberg, Hal Maring, Lan Gao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Southern Africa produces almost a third of the Earth's biomass burning (BB) aerosol particles, yet the fate of these particles and their influence on regional and global climate is poorly understood. ORACLES (ObseRvations of Aerosols above CLouds and their intEractionS) is a 5-year NASA EVS-2 (Earth Venture Suborbital-2) investigation with three intensive observation periods designed to study key atmospheric processes that determine the climate impacts of these aerosols. During the Southern Hemisphere winter and spring (June-October), aerosol particles reaching 3-5 km in altitude are transported westward over the southeast Atlantic, where they interact with one of the largest subtropical stratocumulus (Sc) cloud decks in the world. The representation of these interactions in climate models remains highly uncertain in part due to a scarcity of observational constraints on aerosol and cloud properties, as well as due to the parameterized treatment of physical processes. Three ORACLES deployments by the NASA P-3 aircraft in September 2016, August 2017, and October 2018 (totaling ∼ 350 science flight hours), augmented by the deployment of the NASA ER-2 aircraft for remote sensing in September 2016 (totaling ∼ 100 science flight hours), were intended to help fill this observational gap. ORACLES focuses on three fundamental science themes centered on the climate effects of African BB aerosols: (a) direct aerosol radiative effects, (b) effects of aerosol absorption on atmospheric circulation and clouds, and (c) aerosol-cloud microphysical interactions. This paper summarizes the ORACLES science objectives, describes the project implementation, provides an overview of the flights and measurements in each deployment, and highlights the integrative modeling efforts from cloud to global scales to address science objectives. Significant new findings on the vertical structure of BB aerosol physical and chemical properties, chemical aging, cloud condensation nuclei, rain and precipitation statistics, and aerosol indirect effects are emphasized, but their detailed descriptions are the subject of separate publications. The main purpose of this paper is to familiarize the broader scientific community with the ORACLES project and the dataset it produced.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21-1507-2021
Pages (from-to)1507-1563
Number of pages57
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 Feb 2021


FundersFunder number
Science Systems and Applications, Inc.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration13-EVS2-13-0028
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Ames Research Center
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme724602
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
Natural Environment Research CouncilNE/L013479/1
Natural Environment Research Council
European Research Council


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