Renyi Zhang, professor of atmospheric sciences who has studied air chemistry for more than 20 years, says blue haze (tiny particles or aerosols suspended in the air) can be negatively affected by human activities such as power plants or fossil-fuel burning.
Team members included researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, the Molina Center for Energy and Environment in La Jolla, Calif., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their work is published in the current "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science" and the project was funded by the Welch Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Zhang says man-made activities, mainly large power plants that emit huge amounts of particles into the air, can worsen blue haze and cause previously unforeseen problems.
“The study shows that the natural way of blue haze formation is rather inefficient and that human activities make blue haze conditions worse,” he confirms.
“What happens is that a mix of natural and man-made chemicals speeds up the formation of these particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, and there, they reflect sunlight back into space. The results can affect cloud formations and ultimately, much of the world’s climate.”
When you walk through a forest or even a large grassy area, it’s not uncommon to be able to smell the plants around you, such as pine trees or other vegetation. That smell is nature’s way of naturally making organic gases produced by the plants themselves, often millions of tons per day.
Plants, especially trees, emit such gases through their leaves and when an overabundance of such gases is produced, it creates a blue aura, commonly called a “blue haze.” Perhaps the best example occurs in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park area of the Southeast United States, where blue haze exists almost on a daily basis, but the condition also occurs all over the world.
When man-made activities emit sulfur dioxide into the air, they contribute to blue haze, usually in a negative way, Zhang explains. Aerosols can be produced by many different processes that occur on land and water or in the atmosphere itself, he notes.
“Weather patterns can be affected worldwide and the blue haze can worsen the breathing problems of many people, such as those who suffer from asthma or emphysema,” he adds.
“The chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere can be directly affected by these aerosols. From cloud formations to health problems and air pollution, much of it can be traced back to these aerosol particles,” he adds, noting that aerosol particles can influence the size and rate of cloud droplets, directly affecting cloud cover and precipitation.
Coal plants, Zhang says, often produced sulfur dioxide, a highly toxic substance that reach the Earth’s atmosphere and helps the formation of aerosol particles.
The problem is not new. Zhang says former President Ronald Reagan mentioned it during a speech almost 30 years ago.
“About 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation,” Reagan noted during a 1980 speech to an environmental group.
Zhang says more research is needed to “study the full extent of how blue haze is affected by human activities, and perhaps to look at ways to control the situation. It’s a problem that can have global consequences.”
Contact: Renyi Zhang at (979) 845-7656 or email@example.com or Keith Randall at (979) 845-4644 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.
For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamunews.tamu.edu
Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aggielandnews
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences