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 Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>