Driven by precise new satellite measurements and sophisticated new computer models, a team of NASA researchers is now routinely producing the first global maps of fine aerosols that distinguish plumes of human-produced particulate pollution from natural aerosols.
In the current issue of the journal Nature, atmospheric scientists Yoram Kaufman, at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., Didier Tanré and Olivier Boucher from CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) at the University of Lille, reported in a review paper that these global maps are an important breakthrough in the science of determining how much aerosol pollution comes from human activities. Aerosols are tiny solid or liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. The authors stated that the next step is to quantify more precisely the roles human aerosol pollution plays in Earths weather and climate systems.
"Plumes of smoke and regional pollution are distinguished by their large concentrations of small particles (less than 1 micrometer) downwind of biomass burning sites and urban areas," Kaufman said. "These particles are important because, depending upon the type of particles produced, human pollution can either have a warming or cooling influence on climate, and they can either increase or decrease regional rainfall."
Lynn Chandler | EurekAlert!
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