Enhanced warming effects could change current estimates of climate forcing
Every year, wildfires clear millions of hectares of land and emit around 34-percent of global soot mass into the atmosphere. In certain regions, such as Southeast Asia and Russia, these fires can contribute as much as 63-percent of regional soot mass.
In a paper published in Nature Scientific Reports, a team of scientists led by Rajan Chakrabarty from Nevada's Desert Research Institute report the observation of a previously unrecognized form of soot particle, identified by the authors as "superaggregates," from wildfire emissions. These newly identified particles were detected in smoke plumes from wildfires in Northern California, New Mexico, Mexico City, and India.
For several decades, scientists have been trying to quantitatively assess the impacts of wildfire soot particles on climate change and human health. However, due to the unpredictability of wildfire occurrences and the extreme difficulty in sampling smoke plumes in real-time, accurate knowledge of wildfire-emitted soot physical and optical properties has eluded the scientific community.
Unlike conventional sub-micrometer size soot particles emitted from vehicles and cook stoves, superaggregates are on average ten times longer and have a more compact shape. However, these particles have low effective densities which, according to the authors, gives them similar atmospheric long-range transportation and human lung-deposition characteristics to conventional soot particles.
"Our observations suggest that we cannot simply assume a universal form of soot to be emitted from all combustion sources. Large-scale combustion sources, such as wildfires, emit a different form of soot than say, a small-scale, controlled combustion source, such as vehicles." says Chakrabarty, who also holds a faculty appointment at Washington University in St. Louis.
The study points to the need for revisiting the soot formation mechanism in wildfires, he adds.
The multi-institutional research team first detected the ubiquitous presence of soot superaggregates in smoke plumes from the 2012 Nagarhole National Forest fire in western India.
To verify the presence of superaggregate particles in other fires around the world, the team next analyzed smoke samples collected from the 2010 Millerton Lake fire in Northern California, and the 2011 Las Conchas fire in New Mexico, as well as wildfires near Mexico City. The authors found that a large portion of soot emitted during the flaming phase of these fires were superaggregates.
To assess the potential impact of superaggregates on global climate, scientists also calculated the radiative properties of soot superaggregates using numerically-exact electromagnetic theory.
"We found that superaggregates contribute up to 90-percent more warming than spherical sub-micrometer soot particles, which current climate models use," said Chakrabarty. "These preliminary findings warrant further research to quantify the significant impact these particles may have on climate, human health, and air pollution around the world."
This study was a collaboration between researchers from the Desert Research Institute; Washington University in St. Louis; Michigan Technological University; Los Alamos National Laboratory; and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
This research was funded by NASA (NNX10AR89A, NNX11AB79G and NNX12AN97H), the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric System Research (DE-SC0010019 and F265-LANL(PI-MKD)), the U.S. National Science Foundation Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (ATM07-21142), and the Desert Research Institute.
To read the full text in Nature Scientific Reports – http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/140701/srep05508/full/srep05508.html
About the Desert Research Institute: DRI, the nonprofit research campus of the Nevada System of Higher Education, strives to be the world leader in environmental sciences through the application of knowledge and technologies to improve people's lives throughout Nevada and the world.
All DRI news releases available at: http://news.dri.edu/
Justin Broglio | Eurek Alert!
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy