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
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine