Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find new carbon pollution called ’tar balls’

22.03.2004


An international team of scientists has discovered new carbon-bearing particles, which they call "tar balls," in air pollution over Hungary, the Indian Ocean, and southern Africa. Tar balls form in smoke from wood fires and agricultural and forest burning. Carbon-bearing particles like tar balls in the lower atmosphere are a concern, they say, because they may affect global climate change, as well as air quality.



The team, headed by Mihály Pósfai, an Earth and environmental science professor at the University of Veszprém in Hungary, completed the first comprehensive study of tar balls and report their findings this month in the Journal of Geophysical Research--Atmospheres, published by the American Geophysical Union.

"They are especially abundant in slightly aged--minutes to hours old--biomass [vegetal] smoke," says co-author Peter Buseck, a geochemist at Arizona State University. That means they probably formed from gases in smoke plumes, he says, and contain organic compounds that absorb sunlight. "Tar balls occur in a variety of atmospheric environments that are affected by human activities," he says.


At first glance, tar balls may look like soot, a common form of carbon pollution in the air, but when observed through an electron microscope, the differences become clear, the researchers say.

"Soot forms in the flame and consists of spheres," Pósfai says. Each soot sphere is made of graphitic layers that are concentrically wrapped like the layers of an onion and, with other soot spheres, forms chains or grape-like clusters, he says. Tar balls, on the other hand, are just individual spheres and do not form chains or clusters. They lack any internal structure and don’t have onion-like layers in them. "The internal structure affects the optical properties of the particle--the more ordered the graphitic structure, the darker the color," Pósfai explains. "Dark particles absorb sunlight and thereby heat the atmosphere." While black soot is the major absorber of sunlight in the atmosphere, tar balls may also be absorbing sunlight. "And this is significant," he says.


The research was supported by NASA, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the Hungarian Science Foundation.

Harvey Leifert | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org/
http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/prrl/prrl0415.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>