Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Impact of Regional Aerosols in China

25.09.2009
Moisture-laden clouds frequently gather over the heavy industrial regions of southeastern China, yet little rainfall is recorded there. A University of Maryland scientist, working with climate experts from NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, discovered one reason may be in a component of those clouds: aerosols.

A heavy concentration of aerosols -- tiny airborne particles of soot, dust, sulfuric acid and organic matter -- can affect rainfall, air quality and the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface, according to the researchers. Their initial findings from a seven-month study are featured in an article published this week (Sept. 24) in Nature magazine.

"To better understand the impact of aerosols in China is to better understand climate change worldwide," says Zhanqing Li, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science (CMPS) at Maryland and lead investigator of the project.

Li, who has conducted aerosol research in his native China for more than a decade, says this latest effort represents the largest-ever field experiment on climate research between the United States and China.

Previous studies have shown that different types of aerosols can exhibit quite different effects on climate, says Hongbin Chen, a professor in the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. "We wanted to gather a large amount of [new] data to improve on the numerical models already in place regarding aerosol-cloud-radiation interaction," he says.

China Monitoring Site. Click to see a larger graphic.The study, which began in May 2008, started with placing remote-sensing instruments in four locations in China (see illustration - left). The state-of-the-art instruments were deployed under the umbrella of the DoE's Atmospheric Radiation Measurements (ARM) program.

The researchers used lidar -- which sends pulsed laser signals skyward -- to measure the concentrations of aerosols and how far these often-industrial byproducts might drift in the atmosphere. Radar was used to determine the height and density of clouds in the region, while other sophisticated equipment measured solar and infrared radiation levels.

"The four locations gave us a good sampling of aerosol impact, including from human activity and from natural matter [dust] from the desert regions," says Warren Wiscombe, a NASA researcher who is chief scientist for the ARM program.

By coordinating these ground measurements with tracking data from NASA satellites, scientists also determined that aerosols could affect weather and climate across East Asia. Li says aerosols born in China can travel over the Pacific to the U.S. and are even suspected of having an impact on the Asian monsoon system.

Li and the ARM researchers used solar radiation measuring equipment to study the impact of aerosols in China.

The Nature article also details challenges the multinational group of scientists faced with Chinese government oversight. Part of the research occurred during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and the arrival of much of the scientific equipment was delayed by months, until it cleared Chinese customs.

But the Olympics added an interesting element to the project, says Wiscombe. "We were able to sample aerosols downwind of Beijing both before and during the event, when much of the industrial activity was curtailed in order to decrease air pollution," he says.

Ultimately, Li says, aerosol research should give scientists a baseline to establish more exact definitions on the relationship between weather and climate patterns and large-scale industrializing. "China is fast becoming the world's leading manufacturer, so the region is a perfect test bed for understanding how human activity can affect climate," he says.

WHO: Zhanqing Li, professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland with a joint appointment in the university's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC).

WHAT: Li's research on the impact of regional aerosols in China is featured in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature magazine.

WHERE: The article is available in print (Vol. 461 pp 466-468), on Nature's website, or via PDF download at http://www.newsdesk.umd.edu/pdf/2009/ChinaAerosols.pdf

Lee Tune | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umd.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>