"To Find Warming's Speed, Scientists Must See Through Clouds"

"JUNGFRAUJOCH, Switzerland -- On a clear day at the Sphinx, a legendary atmospheric observatory 11,000 feet up in the snowed-in peaks of the Bernese Alps, the blue sky runs down green hills and white glaciers toward seemingly all of Europe beyond. On a lucky day here, though, there's only gray. There are only clouds."

"From the Sphinx's rooftop terrace, scientists are conducting one front of a long-running campaign to sample cotton puffs of atmosphere. Their prey is shifty, yet tauntingly present. And much of the planet's future depends on what they find.

There are few places better than the 75-year-old Sphinx lab -- swaddled in gray nearly half the year, to the dismay of millions of people who have made the Jungfraujoch one of Switzerland's busiest tourist attractions -- to study clouds and the microscopic particles they form around, said Urs Baltensperger, an atmospheric scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institute who has worked at the lab nearly 30 years."

Paul Voosen reports for Greenwire November 13, 2012.

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Source: Greenwire, 11/27/2012