In 1992 the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS) was founded for research on physical and chemical processes in the polluted troposphere. Meanwhile, a well-defined and globally unique research profile of TROPOS emerged, with a focus on aerosols, i.e. small airborne particles, and clouds. Despite their minute absolute amount, aerosols and clouds are essential parts of the atmosphere because they control the budgets of energy, water and trace substances of the Earth System.