Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemical Equator’ discovery will aid pollution mapping

25.09.2008
Scientists at the University of York have discovered a ‘Chemical Equator’ that divides the polluted air of the Northern Hemisphere from the largely uncontaminated atmosphere of the Southern Hemisphere.

Researchers from the University’s Department of Chemistry found evidence for an atmospheric chemical equator around 50 km wide in cloudless skies in the Western Pacific. Their findings show for the first time that the chemical and meteorological boundaries between the two air masses are not necessarily the same.

The discovery will provide important clues to help scientists to model simulations of the movement of pollutants in the atmosphere more accurately, and to assess the impact of pollution on climate. The study is part of the ACTIVE project (Aerosol and Chemical Transport in Tropical Convection) funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

Previously, scientists believed that the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) formed the boundary between the polluted air of the Northern Hemisphere and the cleaner air of the Southern Hemisphere. The ITCZ is a cloudy region circling the globe where the trade winds from each hemisphere meet. It is characterised by rapid vertical uplift and heavy rainfall, and acts as a meteorological barrier to pollutant transport between the hemispheres.

But the new research, to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, found huge differences in air quality on either side of the chemical equator, which was 50 km wide and well to the north of the ITCZ. The study revealed that carbon monoxide, a tracer of combustion, increased from 40 parts per billion to the south, to 160 parts per billion in the north. The difference in pollutant levels was increased by extensive forest fires to the north of the boundary and very clean air south of the chemical equator being pulled north from the Southern Indian Ocean by a land based cyclone in northern Australia.

The scientists discovered evidence of the chemical equator using sensors on a specially equipped aeroplane during a series of flights north of Darwin. At the time, the ITCZ was situated well to the south over central Australia.

Dr Jacqueline Hamilton, of the Department of Chemistry at York, said: "The shallow waters of the Western Pacific, known as the Tropical Warm Pool, have some of highest sea surface temperatures in the world, which result in the region’s weather being dominated by storm systems. The position of the chemical equator was to the south of this stormy region during the ACTIVE campaign.

"This means that these powerful storms may act as pumps, lifting highly polluted air from the surface to high in the atmosphere where pollutants will remain longer and may have a global influence. To improve global simulations of pollutant transport, it is vital to know when the chemical and meteorological boundary are in different locations."

The York researchers were part of a team, including scientists from the universities of Manchester and Cambridge, that studied transport of pollutants in the Western Pacific. The ACTIVE project is led by Professor Geraint Vaughan, of the University of Manchester.

The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Other partners include the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Flinders University. Flights were carried out onboard the NERC Airborne Research and Survey Facility Dornier 228 aircraft.

David Garner | alfa
Further information:
http://www.york.ac.uk
http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/chemicalequator.htm

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>