Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Colorado State University scientist simplifies aerosols for modeling

27.05.2010
The large number of tiny organic aerosols floating in the atmosphere – emitted from tailpipes and trees alike – share enough common characteristics as a group that scientists can generalize their makeup and how they change in the atmosphere.

The groundbreaking research by Colette Heald, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, was highlighted this month on the cover of the American Geophysical Union’s prestigious Geophysical Research Letters.

“The hope is that we can start to accurately represent organic aerosols in climate models so we can address how they impact climate and air quality, and particularly the issue of how much is natural and how much comes from human activities,” Heald said. “What we’re really trying to get at is the composition – what’s in the atmosphere, how is it changing and where does it have an environmental impact? Many of the compounds in the atmosphere are really short lived, so the picture changes quickly.”

The atmosphere contains many different kinds of aerosols such as dust and sulfate as well as organic aerosols. These organic aerosols come from many different sources, including fossil fuel emission and wildfires. Fungi, bacteria and pollen are among the major biologically produced organic aerosol particles. Further complicating the picture are atmospheric gases that change over time and can become aerosols in the atmosphere.

But for climate models, the differences may not matter as much as previously thought.

Heald plotted hydrogen-to-carbon and oxygen-to-carbon ratios from observations of aerosols in the laboratory and in field experiments from such places as Mexico City, the Amazon and Los Angeles. Even though the studies looked at different aerosols from very different environments, she could classify them as a group based on their overall oxygen and hydrogen content.

Oxygen also plays a role in changing the chemical makeup of aerosols. The longer aerosols have been in the atmosphere, the more their composition has been altered– a process called oxidation.

As a result, the observed differences Heald found are plotted along a trajectory – from the freshest, most recent emissions from a diesel truck, for example, to particles that have been in the atmosphere for several days.

“In recent years, we’ve realized there are thousands and thousands of different organic species in the atmosphere,” Heald said. “With this study, we’ve found a simple way to describe all that complexity.”

“It’s still very important that we understand the different individual species in our atmosphere, but from a modeling perspective, it gives us hope we can simplify our entire description of organic aerosol composition.”

Heald’s collaborators included Jesse Kroll, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and scientists at the University of Colorado, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Harvard University and the Universidade de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Emily Wilmsen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colostate.edu

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 >>>